A Voice from Lesvos

The following reports are written by a person who used to live in Moria Camp until he found a place to live in a town on Lesvos.

First Report: The Fire

Moria, the largest real hell in the world!  Don’t say it is not hell.

The fire started on the night of 8 September. When I first saw it, it was just a small fire, but it spread rapidly with the high winds, and got bigger and bigger.

Moria camp doesn’t have water, there are no services, and nobody seems to care. 13,000 people have been living there in squalor for years. Even zoo animals are safer and more protected than the people in Moria camp.

Fire in Moria Camp, 8th September 2020.

People stay now overcrowded in the streets without food, water, shelter, or sleeping bags.

Police have blocked the roads. Fascists are lurking in the paths of Moria to stop and attack NGO vehicles and anyone who is trying to support refugees. Refugees are also attacked by these fascists. I have been trying since Tuesday night to go to Moria but I cannot. I asked a Greek friend to give me a ride to Moria, but he said it is dangerous – if they caught us then they would harm all of us; it is very risky.

I was recently released from Moria detention center and I’ve been unable to contact any of my fellow prisoners because they do not have phone privileges during the week. The police kept them detained even as the fires were spreading closer, underestimating the severity of the situation. Finally, with no other choice, the guards had to open the doors and release the prisoners. It would have taken just a few minutes before all of them would have died in the fire. Fortunately, the prisoners were released in time, but everything was destroyed.

Greek TV channels reported that around “three thousand people have lost their accommodations” but this is not accurate, nobody is living in the camp now. The Greek news reports that there were no injuries, but many people have suffered from burns and smoke inhalation. One report says that 400 minors will be transferred to Athens very soon, and a ship will come to give services to refugees until they can be given houses or tents, and they will set up tents for homeless refugees somewhere around the Moria camp.

Where are we going? What is happening? Who are refugees?

Do they deserve to be trapped, in quarantine, with no health care??

Thirteen thousand people living on the roads, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, living in constant fear of government, violence, fascists, asylum service!!!!!

What, why?????? Please make us understand!

Is this called Humanity? Is this Europe? Is this Democracy?

Are these people any different than you?

You are concerned about climate change, and wild animals! Please don’t be blind and deaf about this horrifying incident!!! How is it possible that humans don’t want to save humans?

Now is the time to consider and save these people.

Moria Camp after the Fire.

Second Report: After the Fire

On Thursday, my friend and I wanted to bring food, water and clothes to some of our Moria friends.

At 5 p.m. we left home, walking, and arrived in Panagiouda where we faced the first police checkpoint. We gave the food to some friends, who had just come from Moria, where they had been searching for a piece of bread for two days. We wanted to buy some food from the Lidl grocery store, but it was closed.

My friend received a phone call from a Greek friend who then drove us to Mytiline to buy food for the rest of our friends. We came back to Kara Tepe. He told us that some reporters from a TV station will be there later. He asked if we would like to talk to them, so we said ok.

We didn’t think that if we stayed late in the evening that we would not be able to go back home, and just a few minutes later our night changed into quite an adventure.

We started to talk on live TV but the reporters suddenly became scared and cut off the interview. So we couldn’t tell them what we wanted to say. We decided to go home and come back the next day. It was 9 p.m. and we were on the way home. In Panagiouda, the police stopped us and told us that racists are everywhere and pointed to a bunch of people, saying:

“If you go there, just two more minutes away, nobody can help you or save you, this is an order to not let you go, but if you really want to go and take the risk, it is open for you.”

We returned back and sat somewhere between Panagiouda and Lidl. Sitting there, we watched people coming in groups, from Moria, through the bushes, under a bridge in Panagiouda, or passing through the police checkpoint. Some groups could pass through easily, but some had trouble.

Lots of people made it to Kara Tepe and around there from different ways and techniques. Some didn’t have anything to carry, and someone had a big bag. Some people, especially families who had lots of things to carry, found a solution… they used big trash bins as a big suitcase! I guess there are no more trash bins in Moria and on the way to Kara Tepe. This big suitcase needed at least two people, one pushed and one pulled, a nice technique.

Beside all of this there was another attractive view, the moon and stars. We turned our faces towards Turkey, watching the moonrise, the stars, and lightning, looking at the reflection of moonlight in the water. On the other side, hungry, thirsty and tired homeless refugees were coming from Moria, when only a few days earlier, it was their home and town.

People having to sleep on the streets after the fire in Moria.

We went back to Lidl to see some friends and help out until our walk home would be safe. I saw people cleaning up the garbage and throwing away eggs. I asked: “Why don’t you eat the eggs?” Many of them said: “Go check yourself, the eggs are musty, how can we eat them? There is no health-care, no doctor, no medicine, so better to stay hungry instead of being sick.”

On the other side, of the street, I saw children searching in the garbage for food to eat. Still, people kept coming, each group had some people further ahead, reporting on the path and searching for a place to camp and rest, the whole way.

We tried for the second time to go home. Still, there was a group of racists waiting, so we returned back, very hungry, and found somewhere close to Panagiouda to have a sandwich. We entered, but the server said, “No, you can’t come in here or eat.” We got out of there and went back to Lidl again. Four times we tried to go home but the racists were still there. On our third attempt, we tried to go from a different direction, but they pointed at us and called to report us. We thought that we wouldn’t be able to go home for some days, and became concerned because we have pets at home that needed food and care.

After the third unsuccessful try, we were near Lidl, and suddenly I saw my prison friends there. They, like so many others, were also looking for where to stay. I just jumped to hug them and I was so happy seeing them again! We sat next to the street, they saw a bottle of water in my bag, took it and drank the last drops. I had some tuna fish in my bag, gave it to them and went to find some more water and bread for them.

After they ate some food, we started talking about the incident in Moria. As I said in my previous writing, they were rescued just a few minutes before they would have burned to death. Some had clothes and shoes, some didn’t. After talking and laughing, because they believe that the whole condition is so much worse and horrible, but they welcome it.

They said, “It was a miracle to get out of there, without any reason for being in detention, for more or less it makes you welcome any kind of risk, even the risk of life and death. We thought we would die there and nobody would know if around 200 prisoners were in Moria detention center or not.” Like now everyone is blind about these severe circumstances. They were very tired and said: “Now we can sleep easily, we ate food, drank water, and we are free.”

It was 4 a.m. My friend and I wanted to try our last chance to walk home, and we discussed which way and how to go, because the fascists were giving our statistics. Each fifteen minutes someone was passing by to report. We went to Panagiouda again, to see if it was safe. We saw nobody, and we laughed about them and said:

“Lazy fascists, good night, you’d better sleep and let us to go to our home and sleep, too!”

I am sure nobody could see us, we even ran for some of the distance. We were talking very, very slowly and quietly, when in the middle of our path, I found a fifty-cent coin. My friend asked me, “What did you find?” I said, “I found fifty cents.” He said: “Ok then, this says we are lucky and it is a lucky fifty cents!”

So we finally arrived home at 5 a.m., very tired. My friend was angry, but I was saying it was a good journey full of adventures and also, we got to understand the homeless people. Especially coming home like that, we will try to go again, now that we know when and how we should come back home.