Updated: Dec 18, 2021
[18.12.2021, 00:01 CET]
For Immediate Release
On Saturday 18th of December, International Migrants Day, Europe Must Act will release a report based on testimonies from residents of Samos ‘Closed Controlled Access Centre’, to highlight how the individual experiences of people living in this camp since September 2021 contrast with the two leading narratives of the EU and Greek authorities: that people are safer in a closed facility; and that the closed camp in Samos constitutes an improvement in living conditions when compared to the old overcrowded hotspot.
Europe Must Act and the Samos Advocacy Collective have been conducting interviews with residents who have been forced to live in the first closed camp in Greece and wished to share their own lived experiences.
Far from enjoying “their basic right to feel safe” as suggested by EU Commissioner Yvla Johannson, residents explain they suffer from the closed and controlled features of the new facility.
Aminatou* from Cameroon said that the camp “scares you. It’s like a prison, with all the fences. I fled from suffering to come here to a prison.”
The report also details the inadequate services and malfunctions that undermine the promised better living conditions, and worsen the deterioration of mental and physical health of the residents.
Farshid Ghulami* from Afghanistan told us: “I think [the quality of the food is] really terrible. Is not for humans.”
The conditions documented and stories shared also contribute to prove how hostile and violent the European border regime is, of which the closed camp of Samos is only one part.
Alain* from Cameroon recounts his experience of being “pushbacked” from Samos to Turkey: “And after this, they were calling us one by one to beat us. They had batons. I took hits everywhere [I was hit everywhere]"
Cecilia Sanfelici, Aegean Advocacy Coordinator for Europe Must Act says: “This report is the result of a collaborative project that brought together researchers across Europe and activists working on the ground in Samos. With their own expertise and perspective, this group of individuals worked towards a common goal: to investigate the impact of this structure on people’s lives and provide a space to amplify the direct accounts of camp residents. We don’t have to argue why a closed camp is not a suitable reception solution for people seeking asylum – the residents’ testimonies provide the necessary evidence.”
The words of the camp residents reveal the huge impact of living behind barbed wire and under constant surveillance on their lives. Despite this worrying evidence, the Samos camp is seen by many European governments as a model that should be replicated elsewhere. Europe Must Act draws conclusion from this alarming evidence “We call on leaders to stop portraying closed and controlled centres as the only solution and to offer space for safe and dignified accommodation schemes in urban areas. And we ask leaders to listen to people living in these camps.”
Notes for Editors
Europe Must Act (EMA) is a growing grassroots movement, bringing together volunteers and NGOs to campaign for the humane, dignified and legal reception of refugees in Europe. EMA was established in March 2020 by a group of volunteers on the Greek Aegean islands of Chios and Samos in response to the ever-worsening situation of the hotspot camps. For more information about EMA, please visit www.europemustact.org/about-us.
Further comments available.
Christian Schmidt, Press Coordinator, Europe Must Act