I am Parwana Amiri and at this moment where I’ m writing to you.
I’ m sitting back against the wall located in the middle of nowhere, between factories that produce different gases that cause various breathing problems to children and elder people.
Here is Ritsona, the refugee camp, where responsibility is absent, vulnerable s are ignored.
We are those refugee individuals and groups that could be moved away from the Aegean islands to the mainland, due to being highly vulnerable, but what we are faced with despite our vulnerability is being at the bottom of the care list, even now, during the pandemic. Having the fundamentals is an unquestionable right for those, who are in quarantine, yet we, the people locked down in Ritsona are far from that! Continue reading Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.6)→
Here we are in the Ritsona refugee camp, located 70 kilometers north of Athens, constructed to house vulnerabe refugees. Ever since the outbreak of the Corona virus epidemic, however, the color and spirit of the camp have changed dramatically.
As the whole world is facing this terrible pandemic, the Ritsona refugee camp is where the first positive case of the virus, among the refugees in Greece, occured. As a result, we are now in a 14-day quaratine!
What does quarantine mean in a refugee camp?
When we hear the word quarantine, the first thing that comes to mind is being locked down in a specific place, for a specific length of time, with a specific objective: to stay away from infected people who can put our lives in danger and to prevent ourselves from putting the lives of others in danger.
But, what is the reality of a quarantine for those living in a camp?
Corona is teaching spiritual and moral lessons that have long been forgotten. It is teaching equality, that all humans are equal regardless of their life style, culture, religion, wealth, skin color, and geographical location.
Corona is teaching …
… that … a border can simply be the door of your room, when you are not allowed to go out, even if you need to. Crossing that door frontier is banned.
… that … borders can now be crossed without passports. Those documents, which, for years, separated us, excluded us, have little value now. A virus can cross the borders without any identification papers.
… how … foolish humans have been taking for granted the most important necessities of life: food, water, medicine, while millions around them were deprived of them, living in fear of deprivation, every day of their lives. Today – everyone faces those threats!
… that … no matter how hard humans are working, the important thing is what one does and how one does something can benefit others.
… shame to those full of greed, selfishness and arrogance. It is teaching that the only way to survive is to help, to share, to give and look after others and protect them from the virus.
… how … the meaning of life changes when you do not have any solution for your problems and you are just waiting to see what others are deciding for your life.
… that … all humans are vulnerable.
… patience instead of panic. Many lived in this panic for years and had to chose patience instead – knowing that panic would cause more harm than good.
… that … everyone might become like all those who – for years – had their lives at the mercy of others – without knowing what their fate would be.
… that … life can lose its meaning when you are forced to live without any purpose or expectation. Or in a prison – just staying alive – the prison becoming your home.
What we were afraid of has happened. After giving birth in a Hospital in Athens, a women – that escaped from somewhere in Africa – and her newborn where soon released from the hospital and brought to Ritsona Camp. She was then tested positive for the Coronavirus. After being in touch with 63 persons in the camp 20 positive results have been confirmed in the camp.
The quarantine started from today 02/04/2020. People are in panic and they are trying to keep their distance with people from African countries – that will not decrease the risk. With this treatment from other communities, residents that escaped from countries in Africa raised their campaign in the camp more than ever with slogans like “Africans have NO Coronavirus”.
However, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), one of the official actors of the camp, announced that they will begin to distribute food baskets and hygiene kits to camp residents and that people would continue to have access to medicine. But it is not clear when. The residents prepare their food in the homes, they started buying what they need from internal shops of the camp. But most of people are not able to buy their necessities as the bank cash that were going to receive on the beginning of this month, has been delayed on 20th of the month
Close contact of people with each other, having no mask, less access to medicines they need as vulnerable people, is increasing the risk more than elsewhere.
14 days quarantine for residents from government and emphasized by active NGOs of the camp, sending frequent messages to residents. But still different reasons push the residents to go out and provide their necessities, meanwhile police started their activities to control the movement of people in the camp. Continue reading Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.2)→
For years, Ritsona Refugee Camp was ment for almost nine hundred refugees. Today, the camp provides accommodation facilities for more than three thousands refugees from the islands, most of them are vulnerable.
I am one of these new arrivals, who could find peace, dignity, primary education, health care, entertainment and all that a human needs for a normal life, under one camp – Ritsona Refugee Camp.
Our all-day-life-world changed here for us, people could get back their normal moral state. Communication became much stronger than what it was before. But we are all under a huge pressure of a common problem – COVID-19 – that has a single solution: stay at home to keep your safety!
That is almost impossible when you are a part of more than four thousand people, and live in a container with more than eight persons .
While all through the world, the rule is to stay at home temporarily, here it is just to stay in the camp. But in Ritsona Camp this is not logical. People are in a close contact with each other every single moment, without having any information about what it is going on throughout the world or ways of protecting themselves and their children. Continue reading Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.1)→