It is end of January, and we are in Lesvos island. The car slides on the road as we drive from Mytilene -island’s capital- to Moria refugee camp. The refugees are hiding in their tents. As you climb up onto the hill the human geography of the area changes. First you meet the “single men” and then the families. The space is packed by tents. In December it wasn’t like that.
Mud and piles of rubbish dotting the area. We enter the biggest tent of olive grove -the area outside Moria refugee camp. It has the size of a small basketball court. Single men from Cameroon, Congo, Nigeria and three men from Sri Lanka who belong to the Tamil ethnic group, live side by side. They sleep on bunk beds. The only thing that divides the beds is a dark grey woolen blanket. “Room to rent in hell”. Some of the men are playing with their mobiles, some others are sleeping, others are laughing, or they’ re shouting in a foreign language, or they’ re losing their hope. “I’ve been here for 2 years, I’ve been here for 19 months, I’ve been here for 8 months…”, “I’m going to lose my mind”, “I am taking sleeping pills to fall asleep”, “I love Asma. She is in Germany and she is waiting for me”.
Once again, SolidarityNow has visited Lesvos island to report on the asylum-seekers and migrants who remain trapped in appalling conditions. Their testimonies reveal the inside stories of their lives in the island. The name of this project is “Stranded”.
The photojournalist Giorgos Moutafis captures the soulful night portraits of different people who share with us their personal stories. Through the darkness of Moria refugee camp, through the darkness of mankind. All of them have a common wish about their lives: they want to be saved.
SolidarityNow calls for action to end the containment of asylum seekers on the islands. The Greek government must respect the international and European laws and transfer the asylum seekers from the overcrowded islands to the mainland Greece as soon as possible. Moreover, it must provide them accommodation and access to health care and other services, by extending the relevant humanitarian programs.
We know that the EU-Turkey deal will not stem the arrivals of refugees. The Greek government and the EU must move beyond the short-term conventional approaches, that offer only temporary solutions. The Greek government must design and implement a more effective strategy for the reception of asylum seekers.