Start a discussion today with politicians in your region about Europe´s inhumane refugee policy. Stand up for the rights of refugees through telephone calls or web talks, self-written e-mails or art pieces. Find here our action call.
We need to evacuate the refugee camps at Europe’s external borders now, otherwise people will be at the mercy of the Covid-19 pandemic. An unprecedented disaster will be unavoidable.
Corona is a joint task!
The coronavirus is spreading rapidly and is a life threat for the weakest members of our society. In order to protect the most vulnerable, especially the immunocompromised, the elderly, the poor and the homeless people, we have to do everything to slow down the spread of the virus. Consequently, we restrict our social contacts, keep safety distances and pay attention to hygiene. We act in solidarity. New measures are introduced on a daily basis in order to protect everyone.
Refugee camps are potential death traps!
The state of the refugee camps at the European external borders and on the Greek islands is already catastrophic. However, the struggle of vulnerable groups like refugees keeps diminishing the public eye. At the same time, there is no time left to evacuate the camps. If there will be an outbreak of the coronavirus in the camps, any attempt to contain and even slow down the spread will inevitably fail. Measures taken in European countries do not fit the conditions in the camps. More than 20,000 people live currently in the Camp Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos which was originally made for 3,000 people. There is hardly any access to water, soap and medical care. Also, there is hardly any infrastructure.
Europe and Germany cannot leave the people in the camps alone!
If the coronavirus reaches the refugee camps, it will be a disaster for the people who live there. There is hardly any access to medical care and no possibility to stay in quarantine.
How can you stay at home when six people live on three square meters? How can you wash your hands regularly when you share a water tap with 1300 people and there is no soap available? How can you keep distance to others when you have to queue for food and sanitary facilities several times a day?
The only solution is:
Evacuating the camps and receiving all refugees in the cities and communities of Europe.
140 asylum seekers were relocated from Greece to Germany. (Source)
Thousands of people protested across Germany for the reception of refugees from the Moria camp in Greece which was destroyed by fire. The German government declared to accept 1,553 people so far. (Source)
After devastating fires in the refugee camp Moria on the Greek island Lesvos, 13.000 people are without a roof over their heads. German Federal State Nordrhein-Westfalen wants to accommodate 1.000 people and offers humanitarian aid to Greece. (Source)
In Camp Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos, a corona infection has now been confirmed for the first time. The 40-year-old patient is being treated in hospital. According to the Greek government, the entire camp will now be put under a 14-day quarantine.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has refused to give his consent on Thuringias plans to take in 500 refugees from the greek camps. He justified it by saying that a nationwide solution is preferred.
These cities are ready to show solidarity and save lives!
Currently, more than 140 cities in Germany have declared themselves as safe havens. They say: ‚There is space“ and want to accept people seeking protection. However, the admission has been blocked so far. The cities are not only willing to accept people rescued from distress at sea, but also people from Greece who are seeking protection. Many cities explicitly declare themselves ready to receive people from Moria. All information comes from SEEBRÜCKE.
Become active, draw attention to the imminent disaster and support the evacuation of the camps.
Especially in these difficult times, in which the corona virus does not stop at borders, we need solidarity which spreads past borders and actors, who empower the engagement of saving people at sea!
Turn to the Federal Government, your state government and your local parliament and call on them to no longer ignore the disaster in the camps on our external borders.
“People need to be strong and must not lose hope”
After the Greek government restricted the freedom of movement as a protective measure to tackle the Corona crisis, many NGOs had to stop their work in the Moria Camp Lesvos. Because of the restrictions due to the Corona situation and the withdrawal of international volunteers and NGOs in the camp, tragically, a large part of the medical care has also been cut off.
Read from Syria speaks in this video about the current situation: “Nobody is allowed to go outside the camp after 7 pm and 7 am in the morning, only during the day, not allowed also to go for shopping, at least one person from the family allowed to go for shopping to the island to Mytilene. Because of that we are giving the people advice and learn them about this COVID 19, for this dangerous virus, the coronavirus. Most of the people, they don’t know about this virus, especially in the last two weeks. Now we are starting to tell people what the coronavirus means and how you can protect yourself. Because of all of that, we initiated Moria White Helmets. […] We are refugees and need to find a solution for us.”
A large number of the camp’s inhabitants did not give up and set up their own projects together with Stand by me Lesvos in a very short time: the Moria White Helmets Group and the Moria Corona Awareness Team.
“With speakers and microphones, we give people hope”
In addition to their work in raising political awareness, an Afghan women’s team has set up a protective mask factory in a very short time.
17-year-old Fereshte from Afghanistan gives updates on the work of the teams in short videos (14.03.2020): “We immediately started working. We started yesterday to hang them out inside the camp and also outside in order to people learn about it. When I was hanging them, I was checking the manners of the people, what is their reaction. So I just understood, many of them started to say: You are frightening people.” In addition to awareness work, the team has since then also been giving people hope and courage: “With the speakers and microphones gather people, first of all, we give hope to the people in order to not be scared or frightened because, you know, hopeless is more dangerous than coronavirus. People should be strong and not lose their hope.”
„We have to stay here, we cannot leave“
In another video, Omid, a pharmacist from Syria, stresses that he is grateful for the actions by Greek authorities and for the international support from NGOs in recent times. However, while the volunteers can leave and go to a safe place, “then we have to stay here, we can not leave. We are already doing everything we can do to protect ourselves.“
Besides the Moria Camp on Lesvos, the situation is also very critical at the Turkish-Greek border and in Istanbul. Omar reports in the blog Josoor about the situation on the border: https://www.josoor.net/post/a-message-to-the-world and draws attention to the additional harmful situation at the border with which people have to deal independently of the coronavirus: I spent almost 20 days at the border and I just do not understand. I have been watching the events there, the people. I saw things I can not even describe. The Greek farmers are treating the people even worse than the Police and the Military. They are farmers, nothing officially, and the Police and Military allow them to do that.”
In addition to the need for masks and protective gloves, the main focus in Istanbul and at the border lies on basic needs: Food, water and shelter!
Account on the situation of the helpers in the area (German)
This is how you can support refugees at the European border in these times:
While most of the news focus on other problems during the Corona crisis, here you can get updates and all information on the current situation in the camps.
Sign and save lives
With only a few clicks you can support the e-petition #leavenoonebehind and help to carry everyone through this crisis. It can be actually that easy!
Apply directly to people, who can save lives with their political decisions -> EU politicians can have a strong influence on European asylum policies. Urge them to do so by calling or emailing them! Find here your EU- delegate. You don’t know what to write? Some ideas:
Why is Europe breaking human rights at the Greek border?
Why can Greece suddenly suspend the right of asylum – and get Europe’s support for it?
Where are 700 Mio Euro aid funds for refugees gone and why are they instead used for violent purposes at the borders?
What does the EU do to end a humanitarian catastrophe in the Greek camps?
How do you prevent a spread of the Coronavirus in the poorly provided camps?
Appeal: The camps on the Greek islands must be evacuated immediately. Many cities and municipalities in Germany want to and can take in people seeking protection. We can and must grant people their basic rights to protection, health, safety, food and peace!
Do you still have open questions? An option is to use this letter template. Address these questions also to decision-makers in Germany!
Use social networks to raise awareness
Are you active in social media? Then you can take part in one of these actions:
Selfie-time! Take a photo of yourself holding a poster with one of these slogans:
“Can’t stay at home if there is no home”
“Can’t avoid crowds if I live in a refugee camp”
“Can’t wash my hands reguarly if I share a tap with 1300 people”
“Can’t use soap if there is no soap”
“Can’t call a doctor if there is no doctor”
Upload a lot of twitter posts using the hashtags #LeaveNoOneBehind and #europemustact. What if you direct the attention of politicians towards the campaign?
Thank you for the music! Ask musicians, if they can talk about our topic or campaign before or after their online concerts.
Demonstrate from home
Show your neighbors what you are fighting for! Be part of a protest from home by
hang posters in your window
hang banners in orange as a sign of solidarity out of your window
play music or speeches about the topic, so everybody can hear it
draw your own silhouette on the floor and post a photo of it (#europemustact)
Social distancing makes you spend less money? Luckily you can donate to one of these initiatives instead:
These organisations work actively for refugees at the EU external borders. Check out the links to the websites for background information on the current situation.
Organisations for Refugees in Germany and further countries
Seebrücke: The organisation Seebrücke (“Seabridge”) is a civil society movement for human-rights-oriented refugee policy. On the Mediterranean Sea, people flee from violence and terror. Seebrücke advocates for sea rescue and the reception of refugees in the EU Member States. Using the hashtag #leavenoonebehind, the organisation raises awareness on the terrible conditions of the refugee camps at the EU’s external borders. Although facing the risk of infection with COVID-19, a safety distance and regular hand washing cannot be maintained due to the insufficient medical care at the refugee camps. The EU Member States need to welcome these people rapidly and avoid the spreading of the virus which could have a devastating effect on the lives of refugees.
HelpRefugeesWork is a job platform in Cyprus for refugees who want to connect with potential employers. The website also offers training programmes as well as language courses and job fairs.
Start with a friend: The initiative brings refugees and locals together and can be found in many German cities. You match with a new friend according to your age group and common interests.
Pro Asyl offers a format to send a letter of protest to the chancellor of Germany, criticising agreements between states in the frame of refugee policy on the costs of lives.
Solidarity Cities: The network seeks to establish Solidarity Cities, where everyone has the right to stay, the right to housing and education.
Zusammenleben Willkommen (“Living together is welcomed”) is an integrative project and provides accommodation services to refugees.
Bündnis gegen Abschiebungen Münster: The action group from Münster in Germany initiates various activities to raise awareness on the situation of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Greece and at the European external borders. On 21 March, the worldwide day against racism, the Bündnis encouraged people to hang out banners to show solidarity.
Local Organisations and Initiatives on the Greek Islands
Lesvos Solidarity is a non-governmental organisation which offers various activities at the refugee camps in Lesvos.
Med‘EqualiTeam seeks to improve the lack of health care for asylum seekers on the island of Samos. They offer certain simplifications for access to public services on-site and act as an agency for asylum seekers who need access to health care.
Women Refugee Route empowers women to become advocates for refugee rights on all political levels. Thus, the organisation gives these important voices a platform and has a big impact on decision-making processes. Recently, they organised a webinar on the current situation in Greece and collected ideas for future activities such as “love posts” to show solidarity with initiatives working in the field.
One Happy Family offers people in refugee camps a place to be active, to learn, to relax and to make friendships and thus offers a place where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Josoor International Solidarity: Volunteers, refugees, journalists and initiatives share their experiences from the borders of Fortress Europe and make suggestions for activism in times of Corona such as writing emails and reaching out to politicians, distributing leaflets and posters, hanging posters on windows, spreading pictures on social media and collecting donations.
No Border Kitchen Lesvos is a self-organised and independent group of people providing food and conducting political work on the island of Lesvos in order to sustain a structure of solidarity. They reject the border management of the EU and its Member States and call for an abolition of “Fortress Europe” and unconditional support for people in need.
Stand by me Lesvos is a partner organisation of medico and offers a non-formalistic approach for education of adults, supports women and offers language courses in Greek and English. Stand by me Lesvos created a place where everyone is respected and part of a community. Also, clothes can be repaired and legal counselling is offered. Greek citizens, refugees and international volunteers work all together at this project.
Moria Corona Awareness Team (MCAT): The team formed itself from the initiative “Stand by me Lesvos” and gives information on how to protect yourself and others from the Coronavirus in various languages. They use megaphones and posters to inform the public and also distribute self-made masks. They advocate for an evacuation of the overcrowded camp and for the creation of better infrastructure because clean water is often not accessible and keeping a safe distance impossible.
„Home for all“ is a partner organisation of medico and stands up for refugees on Lesvos for many years. They cook for people in need and bring food and basic necessities to refugees in and outside the camps. They also support people from Greece who are in need.
Borderline Europe – Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen e.V. is an association seated in Berlin, Palermo and Mytilene. They exist since 2007 and inform the public about the consequences of the EU´s isolation policy at its external borders. The organisation does not want to accept a deadly and racist policy. They stand up for the freedom of movement for all.
Equal Rights is a non-profit organisation with offices in Germany and Greece. They work to ensure that the right to asylum is respected, especially at the EU´s external borders. Their focus lies on family reunifications, the rights of unaccompanied minor refugees, unlawful detention and the return of refugees to Turkey.
Medico International exists for 50 years and is worldwide engaged in addressing the root causes of migration. They offer, inter alia, legal counselling and psychological support for refugees. On Samos, Medico supports the MedEqualiTeam. They partner with Stand by me Lesvos and Home for all (see above).