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

Crisis in Patras

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.

Read the full article from Al Jazeera here

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,


  1. fuk you
    January 26, 2009    

    Crisis for the immos not for us

  2. Amaliada
    January 26, 2009    

    We go to Patras often because we live only an hour south and it is so sad to see the immigrants forced to beg because they are not allowed to work. I always give what I can because I’m ashamed to be thought of supporting this country’s racism.

    And I’m appalled at some of the comments you get. These people should be ashamed of themselves and their government instead of taking this out on you.

  3. January 26, 2009    

    @ fuk you

    Oh, for crying out loud. Really?

    Shame on you.

  4. January 27, 2009    

    New Folders have done a special day for Patras and a specific video for this case. to watch online

  5. Post Disagreement
    January 27, 2009    

    I agree with DD this is not humane to leave these people in the streets after a fire. However, I do understand the locals being upset with a shanty town growing up in their neighborhood.

    There will be more and more stories like this simply because a small country like Greece can not handle too much immigration.

    I do not demonize the immigrants but there has to be stop or time out to deal with those that are here already.

    Remember Europe is about 1 billion people including poor Eastern Europe. Europe can not nor should not be asked to take in the unending masses onto its shores. The birth rate in every other country besides the west and japan is too high, and as long as there is a huge disparity between the west and the rest..the rest have no reason to not try to immigrate.

    But that does not mean the west is obligated to take them all in…if everybody who wanted to move from the rest to the west was allowed to in no time Europe would be filled with needy people as the majority and would end up in the same condition as the sending countries.

    A program of vigorous promotion of birth control/family planning and elevation of womens position (education, employment) etc in those countries will help alleviate the economic dispaarity in those countries..But in the meantime, if people are going to say to themselves oh the church or the imam says breed like bunnies I do not see why we (Europeans) should feel guilty about their plight when truthfully its the failed state of their own cultures and societies..

  6. Post Disagreement
    January 27, 2009    

    When Western people are poor they reduce their family size and put off having another child. In basically all other countries besides Japan and China and the West..the cultures promote having lots of children.

    Okay if thats there choice fine but do not make someone else pay for it.

    Is it fair for a Greek family to put off having kids or just have one kid to have a semidecent life only to be asked to give out that extra they got to the irresponsible?

    I feel great sympathy for the women and children in these backward coutnries but I feel more concern that this mass wave of unending migration will only stop when these colonist overwhelm us and bring our country down to their home country’s level.

    Unless we face this squarely with these broader facts everything else is just trying to put a band aid on a broken leg.

    i.e, focusing on this problem of these specific people while no NGOs or intergovernmental cooperation takes place to actually address mass migration and how to curb it.

    Inevitably this lack of addressing this issue is what leads to extremist responses and unfortunately their will be more problems as long as the sending countries governments and the receiving countries governments do not sit down and work something out.

  7. zardoz
    January 27, 2009    

    none of the other channels you werent watching
    reported anything,
    did many net news sites… =Z=

  8. melisa
    March 7, 2009    

    I was visiting Patras last year.

    I stayed with the friend who lives around the corner from the camps.

    I was afraid and disgusted to pass every day by these camps.
    The site is infested with garbage and feces all over. Immagine the stench during hot summer. What an opportunity for creation of all kinds of deseases.

    I don’t understand how this was possible in a first place!!!!!

    You have people inhabiting vacant land in front of the residential buildings. Setting up the tents and living on that property without basic necessities. They are coming more and more and nothing is changing. The living conditions for everyone are horrible. These people are trying to change their lives at the same time they are ruining the lives of people who were already living there.

    I would love to see this kind of settlement in Athens, Paris, London or any other city and place in front of the houses of those who responsible for these kind of situations.

    This is not something that can continue in peace. These people are spreading out of these camps. Roaming the streets and trying to get illegali on the trucks which are going to Italy.

    So, what now? Who has a solution for these people?

    Italy doesn’t want them. Greece doesn’t have enough for its own people.

    Patras is a small city about 400,000 people and it will be eaten alive if this continues.

    The situation is a bad addition to the existing economic crisis. You can see how this city is slowly but surely deteriorating.

    I wonder what the government will do once the crime rate jumps and the first clashes happen with the locals(which I beleive is very possible)

    If something is not done NOW there will be problems much bigger than the living conditions of everybody.

  9. Michael Scowcroft
    March 7, 2009    

    No-one should have to live like that.

    I have a simple solution: Ship the Afghan and Iraqi immigrants over here to the UK. After all, we are responsible for the wars in their countries.

    It’s a breach of their human rights to wage wars in their countries, bomb their homes and infrastructure, decimate their economies and then expect the refugees to live in the dire conditions in poor countries like Greece and Portugal….

    Send them over here. The more the merrier.