Chios Island, Greece
The situation on the Aegean Islands is critical four years since the EU-Turkey Deal was set in 2016. Chios island is one of the hotspots where refugees and asylum seekers arrive via boat from Turkey, consistently hosting around 3000 people at a time over the previous years.
Since 2017, Refugee Biriyani & Bananas have been actively supporting in Chios, where the human rights violations are worse than ever with a huge fluctuation August 2019 onwards, there are currently 5000 plus asylum seekers trapped here. We seem to have taken one step forwards and ten steps back as peoples are forced to reside in deplorable living conditions, whilst facing uncertain and unfair long waits on their asylum claims.
It is a humanitarian crisis on the Greek Island of Chios, where around 5000 people are trapped in deplorable living conditions as they try to seek sanctuary in Europe.
The Registration and Identification Centre (RIC) in Chios is called Vial Refugee Camp, which is designed to host 1100 people. This means that whilst some people are given small, one room containers to live in, sharing with up to 10-15 people most are living in tents and make-shift shelters without heating, light and electricity with little protection from the elements whether it be freezing cold or scorching sun.
Syria is still the most common country of origin of those arriving in Greece followed by arrivals from Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also a smaller population of refugees from countries such as Yemen, Palestine, Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan as well as East, West and Sub-Saharan Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia).
Four times over its capacity, thousands of people including babies and children are living in the surrounding jungle due to lack of space in Vial camp, on uneven terrain and mud in living quarters that are often left devastated due to torrential rain.
Poor sanitation, a lack of food and basic life necessities means that people’s quality of life is severely diminished. Mental health issues and suicidal ideations are rife including cases of children who have tried to end their lives. People are forced to live in danger amongst squalor and disease, with scabies, snakes and rats, little privacy and safety with people often stating they feel scared.
Every year there are deaths in these camps due to the poor living conditions and exacerbation of medical conditions, especially in winter remembering, that these people have already lost so much in their countries of origin and been on perilous journeys, risking their lives to arrive on the Greek islands often split from family members or with the haunting memories of loved ones that have died.
Big NGOs have abandoned us and we are left wondering where are the European Union and Greek funds to support these people? The rest of the world and Europe are turning a blind eye as governments from
other countries refuse to accept even the most vulnerable of people from overburdened camps in Greece. This is accompanied with local, national and international politics playing a dangerous game of chess where human beings seeking asylum are mere pawns. With this growth of hostility the lives of those who we are supporting has become increasingly miserable as well as throwing difficulties in the way of grassroots organisations providing continued humanitarian aid.
Despite the challenges we are committed to providing support to people seeking asylum in Chios where we are based full time for our humanitarian operations.
Working with the community we are supporting who are involved in the aid-support decision process to the preparation needs and finally the distribution, we continue to provide emergency aid and basic necessities for the people in Vial Camp and those surrounding. This can include food, water, shelter items, medical supplies, clothes, shoes, season specific aid (i.e. firewood in winter or mosquito repellent in summer), baby products and hygiene packs.
Although we are involved in providing all necessary aid items as the need arises, we have identified gaps in care after communication with other NGOs in Chios and with the population we aim to help and thus our focuses of support are:
Food / Nutrition. Food is always one of the most commonly requested aid items by displaced people worldwide and in Chios.
The Brothers Campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the stigmas and biases against male displaced persons as well as providing desperately needed aid to this population, whilst empowering them by involvement and a role within our team.
The Prison Run which involves providing aid and support for displaced people, often males, who have been detained in prison or detention centers unjustly.
For further information on our primary areas of focus please follow the individual tabs for this in the projects section.
Finally, we’re calling out to volunteers, donors, supporters, grassroots groups and organisations who would like to be involved in helping us provide the dire, lacking services needed here. If any group has the capacity to support displaced people in Chios please contact us. If any media outlet would like to help us raise awareness and advocate for the people we care for please reach out.