THE BLOG

On World Refugee Day, Let's Listen to the Voices of Refugees

20/06/2016 13:56

2016-06-20-1466414067-8732716-162726.jpg
A boat arrives on the Greek island of Lesvos. Photo credit: Karin Schermbrucker/ActionAid

Over the past year, the escalating conflict in Syria and European refugee crisis has brought the plight of refugees to the world's attention.

As thousands of refugees continue to flee war zones and persecution in search of safety in Europe, and the EU debates how to deal with the worst refugee crisis since the second world war, it's the voices of refugees themselves that have been absent.

So on World Refugee Day let's listen to the voices of refugees. In a joint report between ActionAid and Oxfam, we interviewed more than 250 people in the Greek refugee camps in Lesvos, Athens and Epirus. These are their stories:

We can't go back

2016-06-20-1466411992-4005734-168704.jpg
Maria, 27, Syrian, Moria closed facility, Lesvos. Photo credit: ActionAid

"During the journey, I found myself at risk. The ISIS men tried to rape me. When we got to Turkey, the Turks sent us back to the borders with Syria twice. They were shooting at us with their weapons. However, if you pay, you can get to Turkey again."
Maria, 27, Syrian, Moria closed facility, Lesvos

"If we sent the girls to school the Taliban would beat them and carve in their leg with a knife. This is what we will do if you send your daughter to school."

Golpari, 23, Afghan female, Katsikas Camp, Epirus

Greece can't cope and we have been forgotten

2016-06-20-1466412298-8370793-98874.jpg
Fatima, 47, Syrian, Kara Tepe Camp, Lesvos, Photo credit: Oxfam

"Life in the camp is very hard. One day is like a lifetime. We want to feel our humanity and to have our respect. We feel forgotten. We want the world to know what's happening to people
like us."

Fatima, 47, Syrian, Kara Tepe Camp, Lesvos

"We don't know about the details of the EU-Turkey deal. The only thing we do know is that Europe sold us to Turkey. Turkey is making money off of us. Before coming here we thought that Europe would take care of us, but now we know that nobody cares."
Jalal, 20, Afghan male, Kara Tepe Camp, Lesvos

Our families have been torn apart

2016-06-20-1466414813-7168408-98321.jpg
Zeinach*, 36 and her four children from Syria. Photo credit: Aubrey Wade/Oxfam

"[My husband] entered Leros island on 23 March and is not allowed to leave. No one has explained why to me. The Athens police said that I could go to my husband on Leros, but that then I wouldn't be able to return to the mainland where my four children and mother in- law are."
Gazal, Sinjar province, Iraq, Katsikas Camp, Epirus

"I have two children in Germany, and four of my own and two from another family member here with me. I don't know where my husband is, if he is in Syria still, if he is dead or alive."

Rweda, 37, Syrian, Tsepelovo Camp, Epirus

We have no information

2016-06-20-1466412642-8102536-168706.jpg
Melik, 26, Syrian, Skaramagas Camp, Athens, Photo credit: ActionAid

"I arrived in Chios before the EU-Turkey Agreement. When I was on the island, I registered for the relocation programme, but since then I have had no information. After the EU-Turkey Agreement, they told us we had to leave the island and come to Athens. So we lost our appointments for the relocation programme and now we have to do everything from the beginning."

Melik, 26, Syrian, Skaramagas Camp, Athens

"After we arrived on the island we went to Athens, where the police were waiting for us. When they put us in the bus, they told us that they were taking us to Idomeni, but in the
morning we found ourselves here. They told us that we would stay here for only a few hours, but now it's been two months."

Mohamd, 28, Syrian male, Filippiada Camp, Epirus

We don't feel safe

2016-06-20-1466412792-7614009-98540.jpg

Jalal, 20, Afghan, Kara Tepe Camp, Lesvos. Photo credit: Oxfam

"I don't feel safe [in the camp]. Once, a man tried to kidnap a little girl. The child started shouting and the kidnapper put her down and escaped. And of course it could happen again."

Jalal, 20, Afghan, Kara Tepe Camp, Lesvos

"We don't feel safe going to the showers or the toilets alone. We have set up groups of six and we all go together. If one wants to go, she has to take another five women with her."
Tagrit, 30, Syrian female, Moria closed facility, Lesvos

We need food and medical care

2016-06-20-1466413901-5166894-98555.jpg
Mastura 45, from Afghanistan and her family eating dinner. Photo credit: Aubrey Wade

"My husband passed away two days ago. He was diabetic. He had to take insulin. But here we couldn't find any. He suffered from kidney failure. The authorities got him to the hospital. But it was too late. I had to find €2,000 to send his dead body back to Kabul. I borrowed money from anyone I could, and now I have to give it back."
Naime, 38, Afghan, Schisto Camp, Athens

"My brother is six years old and has autism. It's hard to find help for him. He screams at
night and has gotten worse since we got here."

Ariana, 19, Kurdish from Syria, Konitsa Camp, Epirus

On World Refugee Day, Governments must put the voices of refugees at the heart of their response. ActionAid is calling on world leaders to seek a new global settlement on refugees and migration.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS