Tuesday, August 29, 2017

At Oinofyta camp: Where will they go from here?

The 450 residents at the Oinofyta Accommodation Center never asked to be here. They were just passing through Greece, most of them, on their way to more northern European countries like Germany, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Belgium or one of the Scandinavian countries. The timing of the closing of borders was bad for them, and they remained here in Greece.

Some of them left camp on foot with smugglers. Some made it and some were stopped and returned. Then the last border closed in Hungary.

Some left camp by plane with false passports - I've heard upwards of 4,000 euros per person (about $4500). Some made it from the Athens airport, but then security was ramped up. Then some made it by flying first from a Greek island and then to Europe. I'm thinking someone at Oinofyta found a good smuggler, and word of mouth is the best advertising.

Yesterday I heard that a resident who made it to Luxembourg, when applying to register in that country, had their fingerprints matched from earlier ones taken in Greece, and is being returned to Greece. I suspect that will happen more often as the rest of the EU finds ways to curb the influx of refugees.

So, where will they go from here?

Some vulnerable families are being provided with apartments in Athens where they can receive the extra help they need. One of our families left camp last week and is now living in an apartment in the city.

Many of the Oinofyta residents will apply for asylum in Greece and make a new life in this country.

Do Your Part, the nonprofit organization I volunteer for here in Greece, will now provide train fare for people wanting to take classes in Athens. Any classes. Greek and English instruction is an excellent first step.  One of our residents, a welder in Afghanistan, took Greek classes here and has now been hired by a local company as a welder. He rides his bicycle eight miles every day to work at the town just north of Oinofyta.

Camp coordinator Lisa announced the educational opportunity at last Friday's community meeting. A resident goes to class and gets a letter from the school confirming their enrollment. Do Your Part then provides money for the train ticket - 70 euros for a monthly pass. Since Friday, at least five people have decided to go to school. That will be a good thing not only for the educational and professional opportunity, but for a way to get out of the camp environment where they wait for something to happen.

If you're interested in helping a refugee get to school, you can donate to doyourpart.org and specify the donation is toward a train pass for school.

Meanwhile, a few mischievous residents jumped on the roof of our office trailer this weekend. There's an open strip in the roof now, and it's expected to rain early tomorrow morning. I believe it will be fixed with a sprayed-on foam insulation. Hopefully before the rain arrives.


Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

It is good to read that education is being provided to the refugees. With education there is hope for better tomorrows.

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad they are being given an viable option. Thanks for the link, I will check it out now.

Linda Reeder said...

It's good that some are taking advantage of the opportunities provided. It looks like there is no forward or back for many of these refugees. Greece will be their home. Greece is still struggling financially. It will not be easy.
Thank you for helping to provide for these folks, just a small number of all the refugees in need. "Do Your Part" is a good name for this organization.

DJan said...

I am glad to learn that some of these people are able to work and hopefully find a way to stay in Greece. You must be about ready to start your own well earned vacation, Linda. I have learned so much from you about the situation over there. I gave money to your organization but recently gave to the Red Cross for Harvey relief. So many tragedies in the world! :-(

joared said...

Glad to hear there is a way for some to actually establish a residence in a country. So many displaced people around the world including in our own country, but at least they have a country. Enjoy your weeks vacation.