Tag Archives: letters to the world from Ritsona

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.10)

“Stop destroying our future!”
I would never imagine, after reaching Europe from my country, that I would participate in protests, claiming my inviolable right to education. I would never imagine that my life in Europe would be centred on struggles to get access to education, a human right.

I had experienced the fear of losing access to education after the presidency of Talibans in Afghanistan and their attacks to schools and their decision to close them down. Yet, here in the Ritsona camp outside Athens, in Greece, we face the opposition and attacks of right-wing groups and we are being blocked from getting the most basic schooling.

I am one of 850 children of school age who are not granted this basic right to education. Everyday, I am searching to find the reason we are excluded and the legislation that excludes us from being at school. But, I cannot find any reason for this deprivation.

We live in a small world of 2500 people , who are the most effected people by the COVID1-19 pandemic and are suffering in the second period of Quarantine.This is the most difficult period for us, mostly since we know that there are about 5 infected people (without symptoms) out of 100 tested inhabitants.Unfortunately for us, being in quarantine does not concern only our health
safety, but it threatens our right to education.

This year, once more, using the justification of COVID 19, we may be excluded from attending school. No teacher has been recruited for us, “refugee children”, and no transportation system has been put in place to take us to a school. How long should we accept to witness our future getting destroyed?

There is no difference between our days and our nights. The difference between us and the children who have the chance to go to school, is the fact that we happened to be born in a country we did not chose, where we lived in repression, exclusion, violence, war and routine violence, none of which was our own choice.

Be brave, imagine you are one of us, imagine that your child is one of us. Put yourself in our shoes.

At daybreak, when you wake up your children to get ready for school and stand by their beds to make sure that they get up, we are sleeping. We are still sleeping, not because we are lazy or we want to waste our days. We are sleeping, because there is nothing constructive for us to do. Sleeping, we can, at least, dream of a classroom where we can learn and of a teacher who teaches us.
Some of us (children) are waiting for sunrise to start playing with pebbles with other children in their neighborhood containers.

So, when your children are washing their faces, brushing their teeth and combing their hair, in front of the mirror, and start their days with a smile, we (refugee children) are starring at the extinction of our future.

So, your children are feeding themselves to get the energy needed to build their future, we are wasting our energy in this ghetto.

So, when your children hear the horn of the car that is calling them and you use the last minutes to put the flask in their bagpack, we are struggling to have the public transportation service the people of the camp and, failing that, have a bicycle.

These scenes, these contrasts are our daily routine. How we would prefer to find ourselves in those morning scenes of your children’ s mornings.

Sorry if those words and imaginations seem hard and bitter. Yet, put yourself in our shoes, wonder whether your children could be one of us. The discrimination we suffer is not due to the superiority of your children, but to the arbitrary fact of where we were born.

Something is not right when a seven year old child is demonstrating for his or her right to education!

Is it too much to ask for our right to education?
Is it too much to ask to be treated equally, at least regarding education?
Is it too much to get registration for school?
Is it right, is it fair to be criminalized and discriminated as the ones who are threatening your lives, while we are condemned to live in danger?

By , a migratorygirl

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No:9)

Can you imagine your self ?

15/07/2020

Imagine being an asylum seeker , seeking for your asylum application everywhere!

Imagine yourself in long queues to get food, to see a doctor, to go to the toilet, to have a wash, to have access to the taps for water to wash your clothes.

Imagine yourself calling for help while your tent is burning with no help coming to the rescue!

Imagine that you are a young muslim refugee girl, who cannot find safety anywhere, while school and education are becoming unreachable dreams for her and is fighting for all her rights.

Yeah, we struggled tolerating all those difficulties that we are facing even now when our voices and our rights are repressed and our existence is trapped. We have never been treated equally either before the pandemic or even now during the pandemic in spite of the so much used slogan: “We are, in this, together”.

When we are forced to stay home, because of unfounded and unproven diagnosis of corona virus cases, while tourists from other countries are welcome: when, in spite of this call “to stay home”, we are evicted from our homes, we demand freedom of action. But, that too we cannot have.

We, refugees, are always fighting to have our fundamental rights, which should be given naturally as we belong to the humankind, like you and all other people.We are fighting with words, with protests in the camps, until our voices be heard.

Although we have struggled until now and continue at this moment, the built up of pressures is becoming unbearable. We will not be able to continue our struggle alone.

We need your fists to be raised for us, not against us!

We are trying to survive, and you can stand in solidarity by our side. Our geographical origins distinguish us from each other, and it is a general human condition that there are things that some have and others do not. But there is one thing that all humans have, from the day of their birth to the day of their death, even during the pandemic: we have rights, basic human rights. As refugees we also have a right to education, a right to health, a right to hygiene, a right to food and a right to a safe life. We are refugees and if we cannot find safety here, then the concept “safety “ becomes meaningless.

We will never let others take away our right to freedom of movement, our right to freedom of action, to freedom of raising our voices .

And, if you stay silent against what is happening to us, then it means that you condone it and that it should continue.

If you stay silent against this crisis, then you are a cause of that.

If you stay silent against what we are suffering, it means we deserve such suffering.

Do you agree?

This silence will decide the value of our lives.

Parwana  Amiri (migratorygirl)

Special thanks to : Sonia Vlachou and solidarian collectivities in ionnina greece, who invited and supported .

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No:8)

Europe must act

Congratulations to the European Union! To the European Commission! To the European Council! Congratulations also to all the European citizens for your 70th anniversary of alliance. We, however, are not able to celebrate and participate in your jubilation, as your crises and differences have left us behind, alone with all our difficulties and the unbearable conditions of our lives.

Yet we live in the same land as many other European citizens, in the land of one member of the European Union: Greece. We have never thought that, in a country of Europe, we will face such a fate that human dignity itself loses its meaning and that human freedom is ignored, forgotten.

12 golden stars in your flag surround our life and imprison our freedom.

27 country members keep silent, no matter how loud and how desperate our calls for help are.

Our children are suffering hunger and we are all facing absolute deprivation, condemned not to ever live a peaceful and normal life. We are denied education, health care, housing, employment – all those things a citizen rightfully expect.

Dinghy” may be a noun, but we put our lives in one and came here. We were lucky. So many others lose their lives in such dinghies. Nobody knows their names, they are just numbers counted by coast guards and authorities.

Since all members of the European Union are responsible to solve this crisis, why are we totally alone? Why are our lives becoming toys in economical games? Not only our lives suffer from those economical games; the lives of local people are equally affected. We are not the only group of residents suffering. Like us, local people, see their lives, their dignity, their humanity given less importance than the economy. Unlike them, however, we are also denied freedom. It makes no difference whether we live in the streets, under tents, in hotels, in constructed facilities, in containers, in homes. Even a castle becomes a prison when you don’t have freedom.

When I was at school, we learned, from our books, that freedom was inseparable from Europe, that where Europe was, there was freedom too. Yet what I experience here, in this European country, is totally different from what I learned from my books, back in my country. Freedom is just an adjective for Europe, it carries no meaning, no essence. In order to achieve a peaceful life, we escaped from our countries and our homes, but in doing so we lost our dignity.

If we are in prisons; if we are in danger; if we are in need; if we are in deprivation; Europe must act!

If we are trapped; if we are vulnerable; if we are forced to silence; if we are discriminated;

Europe must act!

If we are totally alone; if we are kept far away; if we are struggling; if we are asylum seekers;

Europe must act!

If we are human beings; if we lost our dignity; if we lost our self-respect; if we live like prisoners;

Europe must act!

Europe must act because our fate and our problems are an inseparable part of Europe.

Europe must act because if we lose our dignity, Europe will lose its own too.

Migratirygirl(Parwana Amiri)

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No:7)

by migratory girl

We do not have a second shelter

We took our children´s hands while our homes were blown up by bombs and death was invading our lives.

We tolerated all sorts of hardship and crossed thousands of kilometers, to reach safety, find refuge.

Then we arrived here. We were treated  harshly, at times, with cruelty, as we waited to see if we would be recognized as refugees and given asylum. In the process we were forced to see each other with suspicion for we claimed the same thing.

And yet, even now that we have been recognized as refugees and been granted asylum, we are threatened with new hardships, new obstacles, new cruelties. Our dream, which just came true is being turned into a nightmare.

Our lives will have the biggest revolution. We will be turned onto the streets, the alleys, the parks, the open public spaces of cities, with no roof over our heads. These will be our new shelter.

With each moment that passes, I am losing my focus on my life more than ever. The threat of losing my home, the shelter I have known so far, fills me with panic. What sort of future waits for me, when homeless I will be forced to sleep on the corners of the streets? I was hoping that soon I would start my education, in this country where I was given the right to live. There will be no education for me. I will have to seek a job in order to rescue my family from the streets.

A job …

That will be the hardest part of my new life. For months, I have lived far from a town, in the midst of nowhere. During all these months, I could not be taught the national language and I am not able to speak it.

I dread to think how we can live in the roads.

Why should downtown become a second Moria camp for us?

Why should we live under such a social system?

If our labor cannot be used, then the economy will suffer. This is our belief, but unfortunately the rulers do not agree with us. They are wrong.

We want to work , we want to give services, we want to earn respected money and food.

We need an organized life, a home, an education, a social security number to get a legal job, a health card to get medical care. Only then, will we become real residents — not when we stay hidden or looked upon by discriminating eyes.

How can we be left on our own, in the streets, with no shelter, no education?

There is no second home for us. Our first home has been destroyed under bombs and wars. Yet, we were given some sort of a shelter, some sort of a home here. And now they want to throw us out. We will not leave our only shelter. What is the logic of this new policy to kick out the ones that are recognized as refugees in order to create accommodations for the ones from the camps on the islands? How can we integrate into society under such terms, which leave us totally exposed and deprived of our human dignity? Only when the newly recognized refugees can enter society and have the means for their own survival, should new ones come to take their shelters.

We will not let our families be broken.

We want justice and equality for our lives.

(Parwana Amiri)

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.6)

Enough is Enough

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)

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.5)

From behind the borders

Our life has been put in hands that are playing with us, as if we were dolls.
Today, we are controlled by politicians’ hands, as if we were puppets .
When our country was, and still is, under war, we had to leave it — not for a better life but in order to just give the breathing right to our children .
When we start out from our countries, whose soil has the color of blood, a deep stamp seals our forehead. It reads: refugee. Struggling to wipe away that stamp, we may lose our dignity, our serenity, our honor and even the life of our families. When we put down our backpacks on any other land, there is no immediate shelter for us.
Refugee — what a hard word this is.
Today, we cease to be subjects. We become objects “for sale”! We are waste, and we are treated as garbage.
We lost our countries because of the direct interventions of those same countries that,now, are kicking us back.
Stop those interventions and you will no longer have to tolerate us and our children.
We tolerated bombs and guns. But we couldn’t tolerate witnessing the fire that was burning our children’s dreams. So we put all our life in a backpack and carried it in our backs.
When we leave our homes longing for shelter in another country, we wish to accept that new land as our own, look after it as our birthplace and respect its residents. Unfortunately, when we step onto any country, its people look at us and our children as wretched strangers, not looking for safety, but threatening their income, their jobs, their culture. Continue reading Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.5)

Letter to the world from Ritsona (No:4)

Author:Parwana Amiri

Public safety or mass extinction?

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!

But …

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?

Continue reading Letter to the world from Ritsona (No:4)

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No:3)

Author : Parwana  Amiri

What is Corona Virus is teaching ?

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.

Continue reading Letters to the world from Ritsona (No:3)

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.2)

Author : Parwana Amiri

The chain has been broken

02/04/2020

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.

Copyright Parwana Amiri

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)

Letters to the world from Ritsona (No.1)

Author :Parwana

Under COVID19 pressure

29/03/2020
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.

Copyright Parwana Amiri

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)