The past few weeks have been a somewhat desperate time for us. The agreement of the EU with Turkey has changed things dramatically. Despite the temporary solution that was found at 18th of March 2016 at the emergency summit of 28 states of the EU and Turkey about the refugee crisis the situation is slowly but surely getting out of control.
At the closed border of Greece to Macedonia the refugee camp has become a slum in which riots and violence have flared up. On Lesbos no volunteers are allowed to help the refugees anymore.
Refugees that arrive from Turkey on the isles in the Aegean Sea are sent back to Turkey. In return, Europe takes in one refugee for each one sent back to Turkey. The refugees allowed to enter Europe undergo a selection and are chosen by their Syrian nationality and their validity of their passport. What seems like an approach to the solution, and actually the only solution so far, turns out to be a displacement of the problem to Turkey.
Also, we’re wondering if the agreement is legally and morally justifiable. Afghans are not considered official refugees because the threat of the Taliban isn’t as dangerous as the war raging in Syria.
In addition, there has been a lot of controversy over Turkey being a “safe country of origin”. It is even rumoured that some Syrians have been sent back to Syria which, if true, is inhuman and against international law.
In short: The situation isn’t improving and we are lacking solutions.
For our project the political issue seems rather unimportant, at first. But since our first plans were going to Lesbos and writing about our experiences as volunteers it had some major influence. We had already booked our flights and when we heard that no volunteers were allowed on Lesbos anymore we desperately tried to find a solution in Idomeni at the Greek-Macedonian border. But the situation there started to become more dangerous; people started to protest and violence flared up. Some organizations pulled back their volunteers and so we couldn’t find a suitable contact person which is key in such a chaotic situation.
In the end we decided to stay in Athens and try to make the best out of it. Eventually, we found a great contact person, Christine, and we’re sure that the decision we made is the best and surely the safest one.
We are now planning our trip and will keep you posted the coming days in Athens.
We hope that there will be a good and morally supportable solution in the near future.
May there be some genius figuring it all out!