The questionable conditions in which illegal immigrants are held in Greek detention camps has been a hotly debated issue for years, both in Greece and internationally. Many Greek citizens, along with international human rights organizations have been calling for the betterment of the conditions in these detention centers.
Some believe that the Greek government and police force are negligent and indifferent regarding the rights of migrants. Others argue that this is a European responsibility, and that due to the Greece’s economic issues, the European Union should provide more assistance so that Greece is better able to deal with border control and temporary conditions for illegal immigrants and refugees.
Greece’s geographic location makes it a prime gateway for refugees and immigrants to enter Europe. Lesvos is a prime example of one of the main entries into Europe. Thousands of refugees from Asia and Africa pass through the island.
In the midst of discussion over who is to blame and who is responsible, a group of citizens in Lesvos decided to take matters into their own hands. They joined with some NGOs, activists, and collectives to establish a civilian initiative named the “Village of All Together” to improve conditions of detention centers on their island.
The “Village of All Together” is a supportive network for immigrant conditions founded in 2012. It is a non partisan group, but definitely a highly political one.
Their statement of intent reads:
a) All people have the right to dignity.
b) People have an obligation to participate democratically in decisions affecting their lives.
c) We humans have the right to form an organization that would coordinate all the existing structures within society to work in solidarity for a cause on both a group and individual level.
In 2012, the organization opened a shelter for immigrants. This was not an easy feat; The municipality made the process very difficult and many volatile negotiations took place before the plans were accepted.
They struggled daily to contribute food, clothing, and legal and medical aid.
“Nevertheless, hundreds of Lesvos citizens, along with NGOs and fellow organizations continue to lobby for immigrant rights and provide help however they can.”
In April of 2013, the shelter was forced to close down because authorities began to arrest and issue deportation orders to all refugees living in the shelter. Nevertheless, hundreds of Lesvos citizens, along with NGOs and fellow organizations continue to lobby for immigrant rights and provide help however they can.
In July of 2013, Amnesty International led a campaign in Lesvos against the human rights violations taking place in the Greek refugee camps.
Papa Stratis, a member of the “Village of All Together,” says “It’s time that we embrace, join hands, and shout loudly that everyone should be given hope, dignity, and should be able to enjoy the right to life.”
In a press release, the organization stated that while they will always offer voluntary support, they are unable to fully substitute the role of the government. A large part of their movement is pushing the local and federal government to make policy changes.
At a time when many Greek citizens find themselves in dire economic situations, the “Village of All Together” participants demonstrate an astounding and selfless commitment to helping their fellow man.
If you would like to contact the “Village of All Together” you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +30 6980642825.