Greece: Elleniko refugee camp comes out on hunger strike

A majority of the adults being held at Elleniko II refugee camp in the former Athens National Airport are refusing to eat in protest against conditions at the site — and confronted Minister of Migration Mouzoulas earlier today, according to migrant support network infomobile.

More camps at nearby former Olympic buildings, including the baseball and hockey stadiums, are on edge and may come out in support of the Elleniko hunger strikers, who are vowing to keep going until UN refugee agency UNHCR  and the Danish Refugee Council listen to their demands.

People at the camp, which holds 711 refugees including children, say the food is making them sick, there is no hot water, no laundry and a shortage of translators — especially for those who need medical attention.

In a statement yesterday, a striker said:

We left Afghanistan because of the life-threatening situation and for a future for our children. You closed the borders in front of us. You locked us up in Greece. Now you are responsible to provide us with what is needed to survive at least.

Our children get sick here, and the one doctor we have here for a few hours a day doesn’t give them medicine but tell them to go an drink some water or some juice. We have the right to have a good doctor, to have medicine. Even a pregnant woman gave birth here, because the ambulance came so late.

There are mice in here. There is so much garbage outside. People get sick from being here.

Videos taken of the inside of the facility show the unheated, dilapidated premises which mainly “house” women and children in indoor summer tents offering little privacy and next to no protection from the January cold, which has been particularly bitter in Greece this year.

Greek authorities have done their best to portray the hunger strike as “fake news” and have said that only 30 or so people are protesting. Typically for authorities under pressure, he also tried to blame “outside agencies” for stirring up trouble. However cameras caught the extent of unrest at Elleniko when Mouzoulas tried to take a tour today. In the crowd, a police officer can be seen striking a child.

As Freedom reported yesterday, there have been several deaths this winter linked directly to the conditions at the camps, with doctors on the major hub of Lesvos heavily criticising the Greek government for failing to respond adequately to warnings that people were dying.

Solidarity campaign groups are calling for the following:

  • Stop the shameful agreement between Europe and Turkey.
  • Brook no more deaths in the hell of the refugee camps.
  • Offer accomodation of refugees within our cities, ofeer asylum and equal rights for health, education and work
  •  There must be free movement in Greece and the European Union

Greek anarchist groups have been heavily involved in supporting refugees through squatted social centre networks, and have faced significant repression from municipal authorities.

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