“My Father and my uncle are in Germany and I will come soon”. But who, when, if, where somebody will go – God only knows… or in our case “Melek Taus” only knows.
Since September about 400 refugees live in the camp of Serres. All of them are from northern Iraq speaking Kurdish. They all belong to their ethnically Kurdish religious community of Yazidis and here we are. In the centre of their believe stands “Melek Taus” the Peacock Angel, the seven miracles and sheik ʿAdī ibn Musāfir (1073–1163). Because it is already complicated enough to organize a refugee camp itself it helps a lot to have only people of the same religion together even if this situation of being separated is not possible forever hence religion will bring up a lot more complications in future…
“A refugee is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely.”
Why Kurdish people from Iraq had to flee? Four letters should be enough as explanation: ISIS. Or what they always mention “Daesh”. Exactly in the area of the Kurdish minority in Iraq ISIS is being active in the moment. Hence a lot of people and inhabitants fled to turkey. Suddenly their normal life turned into the life of a refugee. What is the life of a refugee like? Uncertainty. You get sent from one place to the other, one person says this, the other person that – nobody knows. And you? You just want to reach your destination, have a normal life, security.
“Anywhere. Anything is better than this” he said as a tear trickled down his cheek
After the “mass invasion” of refugees coming to Greece the past years a lot of camps are in terrible circumstances. But I am asking, what do you expect as refugee? Especially when you know that you will be not the only one who flees. To fall back on the quote, would it really have been better if he stayed in Syria?
Nowadays with all the laws and structure you nearly have no influence on where you will go in Europe. As a refugee you have to accept everything because you have no possibility to change laws or decisions. The only way if you don’t want to follow is trying to immigrate illegally. But that’s leads to another topic.
But don’t you lose the sense of life being in this situation? As I experienced in our refugee camp there is no sense to care about the camp in terms of cleanness or tidiness because everybody thinks and hopes to be away soon. In our case there is no sense for most of the refugees in learning Greek because all everybody wants is to go to Germany or at least not staying in Greece. If I would be a mother my only sense of life would be to give a better future to my children. I met a girl who did not have any parents anymore, what is her motivation to go through all this? It is so hard to put oneself in the refugees shoes…
What we try now with our project of “Coming together – bringing down barriers” is to make the young people come out of their camp in Serres, getting to know new things, to meet us as foreigners, to make them meet Greek people and to get them entertained. As well we try to start a Radio Broadcast with some refugees to make them feel needed and to show them they can achieve something if they want to.
“When I work, I feel at least a little relief.”– NEA KAVALLA Banan, mother of four sons and two daughters between one and 12 years
As well as I noticed by talking about refugees with the local community there are a lot of fears. When I told a woman in the middle of the twenties that we are doing a project with refugees she stared at us like we are crazy asking if this would not be dangerous coming in contact with them. Of course it is dangerous you have to watch out because while you are doing projects with them every second an Iraqi axt murderer can come around the corner to kill you… All the fears are based on prejudices. They bring diseases, they have a different religion which we are not familiar with, they are criminals,… You cannot deny that in regions with a lot of foreigners the tendency of being raped for a woman is a lot higher. But still you cannot say all the refugees are rapists. To change the opinion of the local people they have to meet and come in contact with the refugees. That is part of our project to involve the local community. I can tell in the beginning I was quite sceptical too when we went inside of the camp, but when you see how happy they are when you try to organize something for them and when you see all the families which are like yours and mine you notice that prejudices are justified in the fewest parts and it is not worth it being stuck on them…
Immigration has always been a part of the development of our world. If nobody would have immigrated to the USA it would be still full of indigenous people being happy and living their native life. But that’s history, society develops and still today. History will go on forever. In some years our actual crisis will be in the history books and for us today international students will sit with our children in class sharing the book because it will be the most normal thing in the world. But it will only develop like that because we are lucky not having a president like Trump…
One of the closest great immigration waves was during the Second World War. My Grandma used to live in Silesia, today Poland. When the Russians came a lot of people fled and turned into refugees. The difference is that by that time nobody welcomed these refugees when they arrived to the southern part of Germany. Nobody tried to integrate them or wanted to accept the foreigners. They were insulted and nobody cared about them. No chance to stay with your parents as a young child. But by the time the immigrated people adapted and today these “refugees” of that time belong with no doubt to the German society even if they were insulted as gypsy and refugees before.
Nowadays integration is all what politicians talk about. Integration is necessary to become part of the new society. Today if a country decides to accept refugees it is not only because the countries want to be nice, they also want to profit from something. That’s only the case if immigrants integrate and become part of the society. This is also indispensable to prevent problems in society. If there are two parallel worlds living next to each other a big tension will be created. To prevent this refugees have to learn the language, to find a job and they have to involve and getting in contact with the local community. But why learning the language of a country you don’t want to stay? This is the case in Greece right now. And that is our problem. We offer in our youth centre of PRAXIS to teach young refugees Greek. But most of them say no. No to learn Greek. Even if they will live here for a long time. Or maybe forever. But they do not know. They do not want to know. Nobody wants to know.
How lost must their mind be if you know you can neither return to your home country because it is destroyed nor can you go where you wish to go – we cannot imagine.
How desperate would I be if I knew my dad and some of my siblings are allowed to go to Germany but I am not allowed because – nobody knows.
How desperate would you be if you knew you are stuck in a camp for a lot of years – that’s why nobody tells.
#NETHOPE – that is what their open WIFI in the camp is called. The most important thing for the refugees is to keep alive their hopes. On the other hand after a while it is their time to accept that they have to take what they get… At least it is better being in Greece or wherever in peace than having war around. After a while refugees have to understand that not only economic strong countries can make them happy. Only demands will not help anybody. They have to learn to take what they get and make the best out of it. On the other hand countries have to accept that not only the strong ones can take refugees. Everybody has to give his part to fight in fact against ISIS and support innocent people like you and me. But this is a long way. And both sides have to accept, understand and both sides have to come to compromises.
There are some links I used while writing the text, for the second you have to be very prepared, it is a video about the coastguards of Lebos rescuing refugees coming with boats from turkey to greece...