Syrian Refugees on a Hunger Strike in Athens
Posted by clandestina on 27 November 2014
300 persons in a sit-in, more than 150 on hunger strike, 45 children, at least 9 collapsed, 8 days sit-in, 3 days hunger strike
In a bid for better living conditions, temporary working permits and medical care, more than 200 Syrians – among them many families with small children – fleeing the war-torn country and seeking asylum in the EU, have begun a hunger strike in Athens’ main square. Protesters began to gather on Syntagma Square on November 19, camping out and sleeping on
cardboard boxes and in sleeping bags before staging the hunger strike on Monday. Dozens of Syrians are living homeless in the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki without any support. The demonstrators, many of who sat with masking tape covering their mouths, called for the Greek government find a way to solve the refugee crisis.
Read their declaration:
SYRIAN REFUGGEES IN GREECE AT SYNTAGMA SQUARE
We are the Syrian refugees who are standing from 19 November 2014
outside of Greek Parliament in Athens at Syntagma square.
We started hunger strike on 24 of November.
We demand full asylum rights as refugees.
We escaped from death in Syria. We escaped from death passing the Aegean
sea. We want to live with dignity in Europe.
Our demands are the following:
· Open the boarding gates by affording us proper travel documents to
enable us to travel abroad, inside European Union.
· Support the Syrian refugees who are blocked in Greece. Book ships to
transfer them to the countries which have already announced that they
are ready to accept them.
· Support Syrian refugees with full rights of refugee which include:
regular salaries, shelter, food, health insurance, education,
reunification of their families, and work permit.
We call the Greek government to solve this issue immediately.
We appeal to Greek Parliament to support our case.
We appeal to Greek people for solidarity to our demand for full asylum
Blog by the syrian refugees in greece
Syrian Refugees on a Hunger Strike in Athens Are Starting to Collapse
November 26, 2014
by Nick Barnets
On Monday, November 24, more than 200 Syrian refugees began staging a
hunger strike in front of the Greek parliament. It evolved out of a
six-day-long sit-in the refugees embarked on to demand the right to live
and work in Greece or leave the country legally. Activists have told me
that nine people have been hospitalized, six people have collapsed, and
others are starting to show symptoms of hypothermia.
“We will stay. We will not eat. We will not drink. We will not do
anything until the Greek government or the European Union responds,”
says Jalel, a Syrian who has been in Greece for three months. Since the
protest began last week, temperatures have dropped and the winds blowing
through Syntagma Square have gone from bracing to freezing. On the sixth
day, the group decided to commence a hunger strike even as one woman was
taken to the hospital for symptoms of hypothermia.
The number of Syrian refugees entering Europe through Greece continues
to grow, according to the Wall Street Journal. Police statistics show
that some 29,000 refugees from Syria have entered Greece in the first
ten months of this year, versus about 8,500 for the whole of 2013.
According to Eurostat, 165,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Europe
since the start of the war nearly four years ago. In the earlier days of
the Syrian civil war, those seeking refuge in Europe would mostly come
in through the land border Greece shares with Turkey.
Since then, Greece, along with Frontex, the EU’s border-protection
agency, has beefed up security and built a fence along its 128-mile
border with Turkey. Now many migrants, mostly Syrian refugees, travel
instead to the eastern Aegean Islands, some of which are only a few
miles from the Turkish shore. Smuggling rings put desperate migrants on
inflatable dinghies and send them across to Greece. The added danger of
crossing the border this way has resulted in several deaths and
disappearances, most recently late last week when four people—including
a little girl—went missing off the island of Lesbos.
According to refugees, part of the problem is the lack of a legal way to
leave Greece and go elsewhere in Europe. One told me he tried to leave
Greece via FYR Macedonia, and said he was not only detained for 30 days
but was also beaten by police, exacerbating gunshot wounds from when he
was shot back in Syria. Others who have been caught in Macedonia have
told me similar stories of prolonged detention and abuse by authorities
Many of the Syrian refugees who have made it to Europe are highly
educated former members of the middle class who sold most of their
possessions to pay for their escape. They say they hope to use their
skills to find work when they get to a country that has job
opportunities for them. Obada is a doctor from the ISIS-controlled city
of Raqqa. He and his family escaped to Turkey and he hopes to make it to
either Italy or the UK where he has family. “Many of us here are
doctors, pharmacists, engineers, and we need help from the European
Union to resettle in a place where there’s opportunities for us,” he says.
Sami, a 20-year-old from Damascus, left Syria with his mother, who is
now in Switzerland. He has tried five times so far to travel to
Switzerland and reunite with her only to be turned back at the airport.
He has made some friends in Greece and says he likes Athens very much,
but understands why it is not possible to stay here. “Greece cannot help
us. We know this, but this is why we need to be allowed to move on from
here,” he says.
Moyad, from Homs, has been in Greece for six months and has also tried
numerous times to leave. “They don’t want us here, but at the same time
they are blocking us from going somewhere else,” he says.
Some of the refugees have more urgent situations. Khaleel, a
17-year-old who recently lost his hair, wants to seek medical care for
cancer after being told by a doctor back home that he has symptoms but
was unable to get tested there. He will attempt for the tenth time in
three months to leave Greece this week to see a doctor in Paris.
Despite repeated threats of eviction, the Greek police have refrained
from forcing the Syrian refugees to leave Syntagma Square. Over the last
week, many individual Greeks and some community groups have left
clothes, blankets, and food donations. They say that until they are able
to escape the bureaucratic trap they are in, they plan to continue
sitting on cardboard boxes and resting in sleeping bags on the marble
floor of Syntagma Square, because it’s all many of them have left.