27/10/2020

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Do not close Pikpa down, replicate it

Set up in November 2012, Pikpa has usually been an open, self-organised camp that functions...

Set up in November 2012, Pikpa has usually been an open, self-organised camp that functions on the ideas of dignity and solidarity, writes the camp’s co-founder, Efi Latsoudi [Lesvos Solidarity-Pikpa/Facebook]

On the early morning of September 10, just several hours immediately after a substantial hearth tore by means of the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, girls at Pikpa, a compact volunteer- and refugee-run shelter on the exact island, got alongside one another to prepare dinner. They geared up a assortment of rice and vegetable dishes for the reason that they desired the refugees who have been compelled to flee the hearth with small more than the clothing on their backs to have some thing to consume.

The girls, by themselves refugees from nations around the world like Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan, also put alongside one another compact kits made up of things like cleaning soap, sanitary provides and clothing to be shipped to the refugees who have been, at that moment, sleeping rough in car or truck parks and roadsides.

These is the spirit of Pikpa. Set up in November 2012, it has usually been an open, self-organised camp that functions on the ideas of dignity and solidarity.

The refugees in this compact camp are among the most susceptible – girls travelling alone who have been subjected to sexual abuse and violence males and girls who have been tortured and young children who have found their parents die in a war zone. Even though each individual solitary refugee on the island has professional some variety of trauma and is in require of enable, the refugees in this camp require extra assistance. Pikpa hosts close to 100 refugees in compact wooden residences. In the eight decades due to the fact its establishment, more than 30,000 refugees passed by means of the camp.

Immediately after Moria was ruined, the Greek government, with the assistance of the European Union, set up an crisis camp on a former army taking pictures array, right beside the sea, exactly where the winds are strong and there is no infrastructure. Even with the world becoming in the center of a fatal pandemic, there is however no running h2o or bathroom amenities in the camp. At the moment, the camp is web hosting some 9,000 individuals in squalid ailments.

Even with the rising require for satisfactory, dignified housing solutions for refugees on the island, the Greek government has declared designs to shut down Pikpa by Oct 15, and Kara Tepe, one more camp designed for the most susceptible and run by the municipality of Lesbos, by the close of the calendar year.

This would be a error.

When we started off Pikpa, we desired to mail the information that refugees can reside in dignified ailments and that our group can assistance them. We desired to show that you do not require to violate people’s legal rights in purchase to shield the host society. We have proved this point, in several ways.

Not only have refugees acquired the distinct psychosocial assistance they require in our camp but, by means of interactions with local and global volunteers, they have grow to be a section of our group. Some of their young children go to the local faculty. Some take part in the local audio group, many others sing in the local choir. They have grow to be our mates.

Getting huge numbers of individuals dwelling in rough ailments, isolated from the local group, encourages anxiety on all sides and is a recipe for hatred. Xenophobia and racism are on the increase on Lesbos. Appropriate-wing groups assault refugees, aid personnel, and volunteers. They even conquer expecting girls and younger young children arriving on our shores.

Instead of investing millions of euros to get the crisis camp into a habitable state, why not invest in smaller, more dignified, camps for refugees on the island of Lesbos and across Greece? Having inspiration from Pikpa and Kara Tepe, we can set up accommodation solutions that convey us alongside one another, not trap individuals driving wire fences and alienate them from society.

Lesbos has been in a hard condition for decades, and the EU will have to get the job done with the Greek government to decongest the island. But I inquire each EU leaders and the Greek government to search at what has been doing work on Lesbos. The hearth at the Moria camp did not come about in a vacuum. Grossly overcrowded, underneath-resourced, alienating, it was a site that fomented tensions and despise. Pikpa, and Kara Tepe, on the other hand, fosters group.

I am an optimist at coronary heart. It is an optimism based mostly on the perception that we can establish solidarity in our society, and, on the conviction that we do not have one more possibility. The condition on the island is without doubt challenging, but I see the electrical power – and the necessity – of individuals coming alongside one another, and doing work alongside one another, to make daily life greater not only for the refugees but also the broader group.

Dignified, group-run shelters like Pikpa are vibrant beacons of hope in what has or else been a immensely darkish expertise for refugees on the island of Lesbos.

They really should not be closed. They really should be replicated.

The sights expressed in this posting are the author’s possess and do not necessarily mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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