A few months ago, I posted an article about the makeshift shantytown in Patras that is “home” to over a thousand refugees, mainly from Afghanistan. On Wednesday last week, a large part of the camp was burned down, leaving more than four hundred people homeless. Fortunately, no-one was hurt in the fire. The Red Cross has given out sleeping bags and set up a medical tent (the makeshift clinic was also destroyed). The municipality of Patras has pledged 20,000 euros to be administrated by the Red Cross to provide tents, clothes and medical supplies. The Greek government has not responded so far.
Irfan is fourteen years old. He has been living in the camp for a month
Last night I slept on the road; tonight I will sleep on the road. I need a home.
On the day after the fire, the head of the Greek chapter of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Patras, Giorgos Karagiannis said on the MSF website
We are deeply concerned about the critical condition of this population. These people have come to this country from very far away, having fled in order to survive. Yesterday’s devastating fire has made this population ever so vulnerable. The Greek society has demonstrated once again its solidarity to those who need our help. The authorities have to take the necessary actions that ensure the human dignity and acceptable living conditions for the migrants
However, some of the local residents were not happy about the camp in the first place. Karagiannis said
the neighbourhood watched the camp grow over the years, locals have worried that “these people pose a threat to their families” and the fire provided “a good opportunity to yell at them”
The residents of the camp have no alternatives, no where to go and little hope of being housed anywhere in the near future.
Water from fire hoses had turned the camp’s ground to mud, a problem only exacerbated by the heavy rain that followed.
The day after the fire, Ramzan says a policeman he asked for help, had told him that someone would provide him with clothes and a blanket.
“And I said, ‘but the blanket doesn’t stop the rain.’ The police said he can not do anything.”
Now, feeling “very cold and very wet” and with only six Euros in his pocket, Ramzan is still waiting for answers
I have seen no coverage on Greek television. Of course, I have not watched every channel, every day, around the clock so I might have missed something but if my experience of past refugee “issues” in Greece are anything to go by, silence is the general rule.