Monday, May 21, 2018

WEIL SIE UNS BRAUCHEN


Liebe Freundinnen und Freunde,



Wir sind uns eurer Einfühlungsvermögens und eurer Aufmerksamkeit bewusst, sowie eurer außerordentlichen Arbeit an allen die in Nöten sind, und wir wollen euch über die Situation geflüchteter Menschen in Griechenland und speziell in Thessaloniki, sowie der Umgebung in Nordgriechenland informieren

Dadurch dass mehr und mehr Konflikte in Syrien und in den umgebenden Gebieten entstehen, sind mehr Menschen auf der Flucht, verlassen ihr Zuhause und suchen Zuflucht in Europa. Als Ergebnis gab es eine erhebliche Zahl von geflüchteten Menschen in den vergangenen vier Monaten die zu uns kamen. Die große Mehrheit der Ankömmlinge sind Familien mit minderjährigen Kindern, ältere Menschen, aber auch alleinstehende Personen.
In Thessaloniki sind es im Moment täglich ca. vierzig bis zu ein paar hundert Menschen, die neu ankommen. Nur wenige der in den vergangenen zwei Jahren durch die Regierung eingerichteten Ankunftszentren sind noch in Betrieb und sicherlich sind es nicht genug um all die ankommenden Geflüchteten zu beherbergen. Die drei großen Camps rund um Thessaloniki sind ca. 50-70 km entfernt von der Stadt. Zudem können sie ausschließlich eine bloße Unterkunft für die Neuankömmlinge sein.
Dadurch dass diese Einrichtungen bereits überfüllt sind, müssen viele Menschen in den Straßen bleiben. An vielen Orten in Thessaloniki sind Familien gezwungen auf dem Gehweg zu schlafen, ohne jegliche Unterstützung des Staates.
Wir, die Menschen der Ökologischen Bewegung Thessaloniki und Oikopolis, sehen es als unsere Pflicht, diese Menschen auf ihrem schwierigen Weg ein Stück Sicherheit zu gewährleisten und wir arbeiten eng mit allen Organisationen und Gruppen von Freiwilligen zusammen, die in unserer Stadt engagiert sind.



Um diesen Menschen zu helfen, versuchen wir dauerhaft
  • zu kochen und warme Mahlzeiten sowie Obst und Gemüse zu verteilen
  • ihnen unverderbliche Lebensmittel anzubieten, damit sie in ihren Wohnungen und in den Camps kochen können
  • sie mit Hygieneartikeln für Erwachsene und für Kinder zu versorgen
  • Babymilch anzubieten, sowie die Möglichkeit, diese bei uns zuzubereiten
  • sie bei der medizinischen Versorgung zu unterstützen
  • Kleider zu sammeln und zu verteilen, ebenso Schuhe, Schlafsäcke, Zelte und alles was den obdachlosen Menschen hilft
  • Kostenlosen Englisch- und Griechischunterricht anzubieten

Wir sammeln alle zur Verfügung stehenden Vorräte und wären dankbar, wenn jemand etwas aus der folgenden Liste beitragen könnte:
Babymilch und Babynahrung
Windeln und Feuchttücher
Buggies, Kinderwägen und Tragetücher
Hygieneprodukte, Seife etc.
Reis und Nudeln
Hülsenfrüchte
Öl (Sonnenblumenöl, Olivenöl)
Obst und Gemüse
Männerschuhe und –kleidung
Kinderschuhe und –kleidung
Socken und Unterwäsche
Rucksäcke
Schlafsäcke

Jede finanzielle Unterstützung ist ebenso sehr geschäzt!

Unsere Kontaktdaten:
Tel: 0030 2310222503 - email: oikopolis.social.center@gmail.com
Oder besucht uns:
ΟΙΚΟΠΟΛΙΣ/ΕCOPOLIS, Ptolemeon 29a, 5th floor, Thessaloniki
Oder schaut euch unsere Seite an:
https://www.facebook.com/oikopolis.social.center/
Oder gebt eine Spende an folgende Bankverbindung:
ΕΘΝΙΚΗ ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑ / NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE
IBAN GR2301102170000021729602652
Swift code: ETHNGRAAXXX
ΟΙΚΟΛΟΓΙΚΗ ΚΙΝΗΣΗ Ν. ΘΕΣ/ΝΙΚΗΣ
ECOLOGICAL MOVEMENT OF THESSALONIKI


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Call for help and solidarity in support of refugees in northern Greece




Dear friends,

 we would like to inform you about the refugee situation in Greece and specifically in the city of Thessaloniki and the surrounding Macedonia region in the hope you can help us con tend with the growing crisis.

As more and more conflict arises in Syria and the surrounding areas, more people are fleeing, leaving their homes behind to seek refuge in Europe.

There has been a considerably large incoming wave of refugees during the past four months, as a result of the recent strikes. The vast majority of the refugees arriving are families with underaged children and elders, as well as individuals.

In Thessaloniki, there are a few tens to a few hundreds of arrivals per day. Only very few of the hospitality centers set up by the government in the past two years are still working and they are certainly not enough to host all the arriving refugees. The three centers around Thessaloniki are about 50 to 70 km away from the city and can only offer housing to the newly arrived.

But since these facilities are already overcrowded, a lot of people have to stay in the streets. In many places in Thessaloniki, families are forced to sleep on the sidewalks, without any support from the state.

We, the people of the Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki and Oikopolis, consider it our duty to support these people during their rough journey towards safety and we collaborate closely with all the organizations and volunteer groups that are engaged in our city.

In order to help these people we constantly try to:
  • Cook and distribute hot meals and fruits - vegetables for people that don’t have any access to cooked food.
  • Provide them with raw materials for cooking in their houses or in the camps.
  • Supply them with personal hygiene products for adults and children as well
  • Offer baby milk as well as the possibility to prepare it in our place
  • Support them with their medical expenses
  • Collect and distribute clothes , shoes, sleeping bags, tents and anything else that will help them if they are homeless.
  • Have free English and Greek language lessons

We are gathering all available supplies and we would be grateful if anyone would like to contribute any of the following:

Baby formula and baby food
Baby diapers and wet wipes
Strollers and baby carriers
Personal hygiene and care goods, soaps etc.
Rice and pasta
Legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils etc.)
Flour, Oil (sunflower oil, olive oil)
Fruit and vegetables
Men’s clothes and shoes
Children’s clothes and shoes
Socks and underwear
Backpacks
Sleeping bags

Any financial contribution will also be highly appreciated!

You can contact us at:
Tel: 0030 2310222503 - email: oikopolis.social.center@gmail.com

Visit us at:
ΟΙΚΟΠΟΛΙΣ/ΕCOPOLIS, Ptolemeon 29a, 5th floor, Thessaloniki

Visit our pages:

Make a donation at the following account:
ΕΘΝΙΚΗ ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑ / NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE
IBAN GR2301102170000021729602652
Swift code: ETHNGRAAXXX
ΟΙΚΟΛΟΓΙΚΗ ΚΙΝΗΣΗ Ν. ΘΕΣ/ΝΙΚΗΣ
ECOLOGICAL MOVEMENT OF THESSALONIKI


Back in the saddle again

It's been a  long time since I last wrote a post here but I decided I would revive this platform as I have started to work with refugees once again here in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. Despite what much of the media say, the crisis has not gone away and indeed over the last few months has grown more intense in the parts of Greece such such as the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos, whilst here in the north the number of people fleeing war, persecution and poverty has doubled and doubled again.

If you're curious about what I have been doing over the last year, check out my Flickr page here.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Passing through - memories from the Western Balkan Route

Batons Vs babies - Idomeni, On the Greek-Macedonian border in August 2015

I took this photograph in August, 2015 in the neutral zone that separates Greece from it's northern neighbour, Macedonia. Then, the village of Idomeni was unknown, even to the vast majority of Greeks. A tiny railway crossing that for some reason was fast becoming the focal point for refugees taking the Western Balkan Route from  Turkey to the countries of northern Europe.

However, this day was different, instead of tens or hundreds making their surreptitiously across the border to catch the north bound train in the town of Gevgeliji, thousands had been left stranded by the decision by the Macedonian government to close down the unofficial crossing point and deploy both riot police and border troops to enforce this decision.

With summer temperatures reaching 35C+  these people were left to fend for themselves in the fields around the tiny railways station on the Greek side of the border, Drinking water was virtually non-existent and refugees were reduced to drinking water from the irrigation systems in nearby fields, and sanitary facilities were just a handful of portoloos that quickly became unusable due to the demands of so many people.

The fact that the border had been closed came as no surprise as this had been a fairly regular occurrence all through the summer of 2015 as EU and Balkan governments vacillated over what to do with the ever increasing number of refugees and migrants fleeing the fighting in Syria and Afghanistan and poverty in other regions of the world.

This confusion manifested itself as an endlessly changing policy on the part of the Greek authorities and in particular, the police who would turn a blind eye to refugees making their way from the Greek islands to Idomeni and then suddenly introduce bans of movement in the north. Not, that such moves made much of difference to the numbers of refugees moving north, if the trains were denied them, refugees took the local buses or taxis. In the worst cases when all other options were denied them , they simply walked, guided the 70 km from the nearest large city, Thessaloniki by Google maps.

However, not only the Greek authorities but also their Macedonia counterparts had started to clamp down on refugee movement and not only were the borders more tightly guarded, the train that connected Gevgeliji with Belgrade had been suspended, the daily service completely overwhelmed by the scale of the passenger flow.

Yet, the border was still relatively porous and the nothing to mark it out but a dusty series of paths and raggedy hedges that separated Macedonian and Greek fields. With nothing in the way of natural or man made barriers to deter them , many made the dash to the nearby town , chased down by Macedonia police or border units in the wheat fields.

On the other hand while this was an option for healthy young people with a sense of adventure, it was really possible for the bulk of refugees who were travelling in family groups, often with older relatives or young children, Instead, they sweltered in the summer heat, waiting for the travel rules to change once again as they has so many times before.

The local solidarity groups that had been helping those making the journey north since 2014 were overwhelmed by the sudden increase in the scale of the numbers of refugees suddenly amassed in Idomeni and so appeals groups across northern Greece to come and help out. I managed to wing a place on a convoy of cars and vans that had set out from Thessaloniki, carrying drinking water, cooked food, clothing and sanitary items. I had been doing this with my group since May and I thought my experience would help in this situation and in that I was completely and utterly wrong.

Not only was the scale of the crisis much greater than I had previously experienced, the state of those in need was far more precarious. Instead of providing food and clothing to those who were tired and weary from their journey from Athens to Thessaloniki, these people were in need of far more and as a result more desperate. It was a combination that required all those providing help and required a degree of discipline and organisation that we had till then not obtained.It quickly became clear that if we were not to create more problems then we were solving then we would have to up our game.

The experience and failures I witnessed that day would prove invaluable when our group started going up to Idomeni on a regular basis later on in September and till the route was finally shut down for good in March 2017.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Preparing for Clean Monday

People shopping in the central market of Thessaloniki for Clean Monday public holiday in Greece.

Thessaloniki central market

Market stall in Thessaloniki central market

Moving north

Five for Europe - Refugees at the Idomeni transit camp - 2015

A reminder of what I was doing last year in the refugee transit camp in Idomeni on the Greek border.

The traditional "bell ringers" from Greece and many other parts of the Balkans gathered in Thessaloniki

Every year folk troupes from villages around Greece and other Balkan nations perform "bell dances"


Bulgarian folk dancer

These dances were used to drive off evil spirits with the sound of their bells and so ensure health and prosperity for the whole community in the coming year.