19.05.2016: Drama

Since our last visit to Drama camp at the end of April (read here: http://moving-europe.org/live-ticker-23-04-2016/) nothing seems to have changed much in this camp. On our way we met people who were walking all the way from the nearest supermarket in the town of Drama (more than a 1 hour walk). Many people in the camp expressed anxiety and frustration, especially because there is no access to relocation or family reunification for the majority of the people. Reportedly, the UNHCR is coming to the camp every day. However, only very few said that they were able to register for official procedures. UNHCR is said to be giving priority to register old and sick people. Moving Europe was told that UNHCR promised about a month ago that other people could register very soon. But nothing happened so far.

To protest against the inaccessibility and lack of options available, several people decided not to accept food anymore. This hunger strike lasted for four days and ended just the day before we visited the camp. Approximately 400 people participated. Afterwards, the UNHCR promised again to speed up registration. But we were told that so far only two more families got registered for the relocation programmes.

Although UNHCR comes to Drama every day, many people had many unanswered questions, especially about relocation and family reunification. According to the people, most of the time the UNHCR tells them to wait. People explained that UNHCR blames the responsible Greek authority. One father travelling with his 17 year old son wants to go to Germany, where his 28-year-old daughter lives. He asked: “Do I have to die before my child reaches a safe place?”

Understandably, people are frustrated about being stuck for more than two months. The conditions in the camp are not improving. For instance, the hot-water generator broke about 10 days ago and has not been fixed until now. The old factory hall is only separated by blankets. Inside, near the front exit, a TV is set up to play some kind of children entertainment program. People are drying their clothes on the fence and children play outside in the graveled yard.