Monthly Archives: October 2018

Open Doors, Samos Island, Greece: We Need Your Help!

The autumn of 2018 will see the opening of a new grocery store in Samos town. It will be the first of its kind on the island. It will be for the refugees run by refugees. The shop has been rented and is now in the process of being set up. It is in a very good location on one of the most used routes from the refugee camp into the town centre.

Open Doors : Getting Set Up

Endless closed doors face us when we arrive in Samos. From its beginnings this shop will have open doors; it will be run by a refugee cooperative and its development over time will hopefully reflect the ambitions and creativity of the thousands of refugees held for up to 2 years or more on the island.

In those conditions we have no control over our lives. We are not consulted. We are never expected to be active in shaping our lives. We are like shadows which don’t really exist. Yet we are also the foundation of the biggest business on the island responsible for the employment of hundreds of people who do things to us without asking.

Open Doors is just a small step to show what we can do and what we are capable of. It will be a place where refugees and locals can come and shop for foods and spices some of which we cannot find on Samos. The food in the camp is disgusting. To survive refugees are buying food and making their own meals. Otherwise they will be hungry.

Our first purpose is to provide a source of good quality food stuffs as cheaply as possible and which try to meet a wide variety of tastes. And true to our name our doors will be open to all and be a place where all people can feel comfortable. Unlike the squalor of the Camp, Open Doors will be a place of dignity, humanity and solidarity.

But without solidarity from near and far we will struggle. We have already secured some donations from friends in Germany which are helping to get us started. But it is expensive to set up a shop in Greece. It is a big boost for us to know that Open Doors has been selected by the School of Social Sciences at Liverpool Hope University, in England, as one of its nominated charities this year.

To meet our costs we are going to need help at least over the first year. We have many expenses at the start in setting up and fitting the shop with shelves and fridges; buying the initial stock, covering the bureaucratic costs of creating the business; and help towards meeting the costs of at least one full time worker. These are just some!

With your help we want to at least feed those who will regularly help us in the shop. We will certainly need an ’emergency store’ where those with nothing can get some basic stuff. We have no doubt that the store will quickly become widely used and visited by the refugees and will come a place where ideas and thoughts are shared. We hope through its own income as well as through donations that the store will be able to help some of these ideas become realities.

Because of our experience of being endlessly ripped off we are totally committed to openness for without it solidarity becomes impossible.

We promise to keep you updated!

Sofiane Ait Chalalet on behalf of the Open Doors co-op.

Here are our bank details for one off or standing order donations:

Name of Bank : Piraeus Bank

iban GR0201713580006358010170226

BIC :PIRBGRAA

address :Them Sofouli 37

Samos 83100 Greece

reference : Open Doors

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Tents and Drones

On Wednesday October 3rd 2018 over 200 refugees arrived on Samos.

On Thursday, a Palestinian friend living in one of the containers inside the camp was told he had to leave to make space for new arrivals who had more need for his place.

Of course he asked where do I go.

To the forest around the camp, he was told.

In what do I sleep?

A tent came the reply.

What tent?

You must go and buy one.

On Friday we heard that the Chinese shops which sell small summer style tents had sold out.

In the meantime….

On October 5th it was reported that the government had sacked the director of the national Hot Spot programme.

“In comments to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency Thursday, Vitsas [ the migration minister] said that last Tuesday he gave the head of the [hot spot] service, Andreas Iliopoulos, until Friday morning to resign or be dismissed.Vitsas’s comments came a day after Iliopoulos alleged in an interview with liberal newspaper Fileleftheros that European Union funds for migration centers were being mismanaged and called for prosecutors to intervene. Vitsas dismissed the claims as “lies.” Iliopoulos meanwhile told Kathimerini he had no real power.” (Ekathimerini, 5th October 2018).

One can assume a touch of the kamikaze in Iliopoulos’s decision to be interviewed by this newspaper. Only a few days earlier the defence minister Panos Kammenos had filed a defamation action against three journalists including the editor in chief of the Fileleftheros daily who had raised concerns about the misuse of funds intended for the hot spots.

““The money existed to transform the camp [Moria Lesvos] into a centre that could have resembled the Hilton; instead it is the Moria that is the source of national shame,” said the paper’s editor-in-chief, Panayiotis Lampsias. “Our reporting is based on fact and totally backed up. We stand by it and will continue with it,” he told the Guardian three days after he was briefly detained.” (Guardian 26 September 2018).

At the same time, it was revealed that the European anti-fraud agency was investigating “alleged irregularities concerning the provision of EU-funded food for refugees in Greece.

Athens has received a total of €1.6bn in financial aid for refugees since 2015.

At the beginning of October, the leader of the conservative New Democracy party, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, visited Samos. To his credit he went into the Camp and noted ” It is really outrageous that while our country had at its disposal 1.6 billion euros from Europe – of which it has absorbed 1.1 billion – that these (inhumane) conditions exist today in Greece and in Europe in the 21st century” (My Samos Blog 2nd October 2018).

On 26th September 2018, Christiana Kalogirou, the Regional Governor of the North Aegean which includes Samos island, issued an order demanding action in the Samos Hotspot . If in 30 days the improvements have not been made then the camp would be closed.

In particular, the following problems were highlighted;

Concerns over food management/storage, distribution and quality of packaged food;

Strong noxious odours; uncollected trash, widespread dirt with an abundance of flies and other insects with health consequences;

Filthy toilets, standing water, fly and insect infestation of toilets and washing area. Generally filthy.

Massive overcrowding which favours transmission of infections;

Over 650 in tents around the camp with no easy access to toilets or washing facilities making for an unhealthy living space.

We wait to see what will happen. It is unimaginable that the camp will be closed.

On 27th September local Samos media reported that Frontext was now test flying its drone over Samos. 2 weeks earlier Frontex disclosed contracts of 6.5 million euros of which  4.75 million will go to Israel Aerospace Industries to provide a medium altitude long endurance remotely piloted aircraft. (Statewatch September 19th 2018) 

Drone for Samos Airspace

In the meantime on the ground we have this:

Samos Hotspot October 2018

And the rains are coming.