The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Children's Hunger Strike Ends

Via the BBC News from Athens based reporter Malcolm Brabant

Last week I posted about the children at a detention centre in Leros who went on a hunger strike to protest conditions there. The good news is that

Their action embarrassed the Greek government, which is under increasing pressure from its European Union partners to improve its treatment of asylum seekers.

Late last week, the boys were visited by Giorgos Costandopoulos, the deputy health minister, who promised they would be moved to better accommodation on the mainland

This is Salman Marufel. He is eleven years old.

His parents bankrupted themselves to raise the $10,000 (£5,000) demanded by traffickers for helping Salman to escape the conflict in Afghanistan, travel along the old Silk Road through Iran and Turkey, and into a rubber dinghy for the short, perilous crossing to Leros

He went without food twice for periods of four or five days.

We wanted the government to listen to our problems. I want to go to Athens and be free. I am really worried about my parents, but they will be happy that I am in Greece

This is Javed Ahmadzi. He is fourteen years old.

We had been here for about 45 days and, every day, we asked the police, the government and the political people what will happen to us. But they didn’t answer. So we were compelled to stop eating to solve our problems

As happy as I am that these children are now to be moved to more appropriate accommodation and I hope they will have the opportunity to start a better life now, they will be replaced by others in the very near future. The problems of the lack of infrastructure to deal with hundreds of people fleeing Afghanistan and Iraq will continue. There is much confusion about whether the funds are there and have “disappeared” or whether there simply isn’t enough. I am looking into this and I am hoping for some real figures at some point.

In the meantime, children put themselves in danger to be heard. This is incredibly disturbing. Greece is obviously having very real problems dealing with this situation but it is totally unacceptable that children should be suffering here for ANY reason whether it’s incompetence, dishonesty, lack of funds or lack of will and compassion.

Enough of the excuses. People are in desperate need of solutions.

Please read the full article which includes a description of one Leros resident’s reaction to Phillipos Olympitis who is trying to help asylum seekers on the island.

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  1. BondBloke
    May 26, 2008    

    I think that the treatment of Asylum seekers is quite appaling in most countries, but worse in some than others. I mean, let’s face it, these people are trying to get away from many diffetent forms of abuse, torture etc., and what happens to them when they arrive in what they think is going to be a safe haven? Well, the answer is that most of them get treated like something that has been trodden in and is creating a nasty sticky mess on the sole of one’s shoe…

    I read regularly, but don’t always comment, and am pleaesed to see that you are keeping up the high standards that I have come to expect, more power to your writing fingers.

    BondBlokes last blog post..Yes! Yes! Yes!

  2. Northerner
    May 26, 2008    

    “I asked a British official to list the assistance the United Kingdom was offering its partner on the easternmost frontier of the European Union.

    It amounted to little more than meetings and lectures to Greece on how to improve its human rights.”

    Interesting…so where is all the help from the EU?UK’s contribution is meetings and lectures, oh the hypocrisy.

    A fairly balanced article from the BBC.It puts things in perspective.

  3. The Greek with No Name
    May 27, 2008    

    Rather than spout forth teenage slogans and epithets about human rights let’s ask serious questions about why this is happening.

    Does anyone seriously think that the wave of refugees and immigrants is going to slow down judging by rising oil prices, food prices and a slowing world economy which will lead to further political and social conflict? Of course not. The situation will only get worse. Also, Greece’s ability to deal with this problem will only worsen as their own economy grounds to a halt, inflation soars and unemployment grows – leading to lower tax revenues and less funds to be distributed. Do you seriously think that the average Greek citizen will prefer their taxes go to saving Pakistanis rather than their own children and families? Of course not. And which Greek families are going to be most at risk. Of course, lower middle and working class ones. Ambivalence and outright discontent with immigration levels is spreading throughout Europe – even in places where the proportion of non-nationals is relatively low. So to say that Greece is not abiding by this or that law or custom is ludicrous. No one in Europe is – despite what some politically expediant German and Norwegian civil servants like to say. Also, this is likely to worsen. Therefore, opening the borders would be political suicide and almost certainly lead to social unrest and violence.

    The only option is for the major economic and political powers to get to together and attempt to solve the problems in the home countries of these immigrants. It is a disgrace for Germany to suddenly become so concerned with asylum seekers in Greece!! Why doesn’t the German government pressure the German companies to establish production facilities in these third world countries or encourage existing German businesses to distribute their profits more widely. Greece is not a major power and should not be made the scapegoat for the exploitative practices of the major powers. Also, Greece should only accept those migrants who are capable of assimilation – which means learning the Greek language, culture and adapting to Greek religious and social practices.