Today me and Dan went to check out an unofficial squat not far from us in Thessaloniki. We found out about it from our lovely pal Abdulazez Dukhan. We knew that there were a group of people living there in terrible conditions and we were nervous about what we would find…
It was very clear from the moment we arrived that the situation was critical and that our help was greatly needed. It was freezing, snow has just began to fall, and as we walked into the area, we were faced with rubbish floating in muddy rainwater, the stench of urine and a group of hopeless human beings struggling to survive.
The ‘camp’ is a half built concrete building where people have set up makeshift shelters within the little protection that the building provides. There is no roof, no windows, no doors, nothing.
We worked out, with the little English that the people spoke, that they were a mix of Afghans, Pakistanis and Egyptians living here. There were roughly 18 children, mostly very young and with their parents. I felt so sorry for these children, knowing that just half an hour away our lovely EKO camp provides kids with endless entertainment, food and clothing. Of course, the situation at EKO is far from perfect, but experiencing this new place really put it into perspective for me.
One Afghan lady brought her beautiful 9 month old baby out of her tent to show me. He was coughing a lot, as would any kid that is living in a paper thin tent exposed to the worsening weather here in Greece. Another lady we met was 8 months pregnant. She was beautiful and had a warm smile but was clearly exhausted, lacking proper nutrition and in absolutely no way ready to give birth in this hell she was caught up in.
Another woman…4 months pregnant with another 2 babies in her tent.
We met a group of teenagers that had arrived 3 days ago and had no tent. They had been sleeping on the hard concrete ground with nothing to protect them from the bitter cold.
Thankfully we had some stuff with us and managed to distribute some tents to those who didn’t have them, as well as hot water bottles, jumpers, coats and other clothing items.
Me and Dan have decided to go there once a week to check up on the people, distribute new things to keep them as warm as possible and to make sure they have enough food.
It seems as if these people have been forgotten. To see them sleeping outside in the open air in these conditions kinda reminded me of Calais when it was freezing in the winter. Just have a look at these pictures we took and decide for yourself…
We expect the situation in Greece to only get worse with the threats that Erdogan of Turkey has made recently. He has mentioned that he will open the passage and allow around 3000 people through to Greece every day. Greece’s camps in the North are not prepared for this. The islands are super low on aid and camps like Moria are full.
What will happen when we are confronted with thousands of arrivals a day while the situation is still like this on the mainland?!
Dan, myself and Britts (who arrives in a few weeks) will be working together to continue supporting projects here in the Thessaloniki area but we will also be planning and preparing for emergencies or gaps in the support given in Greece, to try and ensure that people are as comfortable as possible through the winter months.
We need help to keep on supporting these people though. We can do everything we can on the ground, work every hour under the sun, but we need you guys at home to support in your way too…
Please donate to keep a baby a little warmer tonight, to give a tent to shelter some teenage boys from the snow, to feed a family that are struggling to feed all their children or to give some basic medical aid to those struggling in Greece.