Calling for Unity and Sustainable Programmes

26. October, 2016
By Elena, co-founder

Following the fires in Moria there was an influx of support, offers of help and donations. Each time there is a moment of crisis, individuals and organizations pull together and rise to the occasion. This is a wonderful, compassionate act, but when chaos dies down and the sense of urgency dissipates, people easily forget the ongoing crisis that remains. The fires in Moria were not an isolated event. Incidents of self-harm and protests are taking place in camps throughout Greece as a result of the profound despair, boredom, and feelings of worthlessness among refugees as they wait in squalid conditions, forgotten by the international community for months on end.

Seeing the current state of Moria was a wake up call. Hard censorship imposed by the management prohibits any real development or progress, and both the local and refugee community are becoming increasingly impatient and frustrated. The refugee crisis in Greece still exists, but it has changed, and we must change with it. We need to stop reacting and begin actively creating long-term solutions; otherwise I fear we are condemning generations of people into social and mental stagnation, not to mention extreme victimization and dependence on aid.

I feel there is an immediate need to unite in support of international protection seekers currently entrapped on the island. Together I hope we can prevent rebuilding Moria in the same ugly image, and instead create a space that surpasses covering basic needs. Being treated with dignity, given access to information, education, legal aid, and retaining the right to utilize one’s skills in order to maintain a sense of identity and purpose can no longer be seen as superfluous. We cannot allow, or be complicit in, the creation of more camps and areas that breed extremism, fear, despair, humiliation, and stink of shit and inhumanity.

Distributing blankets and tents for transit is needed in times of emergency, but it is time that we transition away from a reactionary model of aid. This is a call for NGOs, independent groups, volunteers, and all other partners to unify and incorporate sustainable access to basic needs, education, psychosocial support, and legal counsel into their missions. We need to promote independence and ensure that asylum seekers are able to voice their needs, claim their legal rights and retain their right of choice, while building programs that promote agency, empowerment, and integration. Frequently the ultimate aim is to create dignified living spaces that promote independent dialogue, integration, equality and empowerment. There are successful alternative models within Greece but also abroad, which prove that there are more efficient and humane ways to offer humanitarian aid. Aid should not work in a vacuum. Advocacy, activism, and sustainable solutions must be at the forefront of our actions and plans for the future.

‘There are no challenges’, JFK once noted, ‘that man[kind] create, that man[kind] can’t solve’. It is time for us to unite behind a common goal and reclaim the promise of the Humanitarian Charter and fight for a brighter future for humankind.