greece

Charity turns old blankets into winter coats for refugees

By COSTAS KANTOURIS

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THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — It’s been a miserable winter in Greece, especially for the many thousands of refugees staying in tents in old factories and warehouses. At a tiny workshop in the northern city of Thessaloniki, they’re trying to make a little bit of a difference.

Volunteers are working long hours to try to keep the refugees warm, with bursts of noise from sewing machines revealing their mission: To turn discarded blankets into jackets, overcoats and other winter wearables.

There’s an almost endless supply: The blankets — mostly army issue, gray with red stitching — came from the sprawling refugee and migrant encampment at Idomeni on the Macedonian border that is now closed.

As many as 14,000 people lived in tents at the site last year after European countries closed borders to refugees streaming into the continent. Greek police cleared the camp last May, leaving hundreds of tents and thousands of blankets behind. A Greek-German charity called Naomi collected them by the vanload to be washed and reused.

Project organizer Elke Wollschlaeger helps make and even model the coats, which have the label “Remember Idomeni” stitched inside.

“We’re trying to keep it in people’s minds what happened in Idomeni last year, and what Europe did to refugees and the Greek people, just leaving the borders closed and thousands of people stranded,” she said.

Greece’s government says more than 60,000 refugees and migrants remain stuck in the county following the border closures. It has struggled to shelter camp dwellers from freezing overnight temperatures. Authorities on the island of Lesbos are investigating three recent deaths at a refugee camp there, possibly caused by fumes from makeshift heaters.

For Syrian refugee Hasan Al Kodsy, helping out at the coat workshop in Thessaloniki was a natural fit. The 30-year-old used to run a family textile business in Damascus that employed about 100 workers. His journey to Europe stopped at Idomeni but he’s still hoping to join his wife and 2-year-old daughter in Munich, Germany, through the European Union’s slow-moving relocation scheme.

“I saw women (in Idomeni) shivering in blankets and that was not a nice thing to see,” he said. “So we started making clothes with the blankets.”

The charity doesn’t distribute the jackets directly but passes them on to other aid groups in return for donations, using any money raised for skills-training programs for refugees and projects to take them out of camps and place them in apartments. It also sells the coats to walk-ins, like resident Katerina Tsolakidou.

“We really liked the idea of re-using the blankets from Idomeni,” she said after picking up a coat. “It gives the refugees something to do. So instead of spending the money somewhere else, it’ll be put to good use here.”

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Article from: https://apnews.com/6d5e1d5a89a840a88c6b5c8cca19e89b

 

Independent volunteers in Idomeni Greece

Published on Apr 14, 2016

I am an independent volunteer, I don’t get paid and I cook for the people. Since we arrived here, 3 months ago, we have cooked more than 500.000 hot meals, we have distributed thousands of tents, sleeping bags and blankets, masses of dry food and vital information. We have been the emotional support and the humanity of Idomeni. All of this is thanks to the people who believe in us, supporting us with donations, and the people who know that the governments and the NGOs are not doing what they should.

I’m an independent volunteer, since my arrival in Idomeni, I’ve been taken by police force twice just because I witnessed them trying to take violent action. I have testified against the media accusing us of responsibility for putting the lives of refugees in danger. I’ve appeared on different media channels, accused of being a trouble maker and provocateur of protest. Our cars with soup have been stopped by the police more than 30 times. I’ve been woken from my bed by 20 police raiding our home at gunpoint, inspecting me and my friends one by one. I’ve been treated like an offender since the first time I arrived here.
I am here because I believe that people should help each other in the bad situations and I don’t agree how our politicians are dealing with this situation. I am just one of the thousands of independent volunteers from all over the world who have visited Greece in the last months.

And now, we stand together to say:
“Europe, don’t look away”.

An independent volunteer
http://www.AidDeliveryMission.org

Idomeni refugees push to cross into Macedonia despite border closure

Hundreds of refugees at the Idomeni camp have been stopped by Macedonian troops after walking through mud and forging a river to cross the border. Idomeni has become the latest flashpoint in the refugee crisis.

Hundreds of desperate refugees on Monday marched out of the water-logged Idonemi camp in Greece, seeking an alternative route across the sealed border of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The mainly Syrian and Iraqi refugees, including children, trudged through mud carrying their belongings towards a river about 5 kilometers (3 miles) to the west of Idomeni, where some 12,000 refugees are stranded.

The refugees forded a swollen river that crosses into Macedonia, putting them closer to the sealed border as they searched for holes in a newly built barbed wire fence.

Highlighting the dangers, Macedonian state TV MRT on Monday reported three Afghans were found dead in the river, apparently having drowned the previous day as part of a group of more than 20 refugees trying to cross the swollen Suva Reka river.

Hours after setting out from the camp, several hundred refugees were able cross into Macedonia, where they were detained by border police and the army for illegally entering the country. Around 30 journalists following the refugees were also arrested.

Macedonia’s interior ministry said it was “taking steps” to return more than 700 illegal migrants back to Greece and would improve security where migrants crossed.

After Austria last month put caps on the number of migrants it would allow to cross its border, in a domino effect Balkan nations first restricted, then last week completely sealed border crossings to anybody without EU visas, effectively trapping more than 40,000 refugees and migrants in Greece.

After crossing the Aegean from Turkey to Greece, most migrants and refugees had moved to richer EU countries like Germany through the so-called Balkan route through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is pushing a European solution to the refugee crisis and a controversial deal with Turkey, has come out against the border closures while recognizing they have helped reduce the influx of migrants into Germany.

“It is unquestionable that Germany benefits from [the route closure, but] we can see from pictures out of Greece that that is not a sustainable solution,” Merkel said Monday, a day after her party suffered in regional elections that were viewed as litmus test of her open-door refugee policy.

EU leaders and Turkey are set to meet on Thursday to hammer out a deal to stem the disorganized influx of migrants and refugees coming to Europe.

The border closures have raised concern that desperate and frustrated refugees will seek more dangerous ways to make their way north. So far, the closure of the Balkan route appears to have done little to stop migrants and refugees from crossing the Aegean.

According the UNHCR, more than 8,500 refugees and migrants crossed the Aegean last week, putting an even greater burden on Greece.

 

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Article from: http://www.dw.com/en/idomeni-refugees-push-to-cross-into-macedonia-despite-border-closure/a-19116022

Refugees brave rain surging river to flee teeming Idomeni camp

Defying E.U., Hundreds of Migrants Enter Macedonia From Greece

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Hundreds of migrants braved a fast-moving river to cross from Greece into Macedonia on Monday, defying efforts by European officials to stop people fleeing war and desperation from traveling through the Balkans to Germany and other destinations.

At least three people — two women and a man, all around 20 — drowned when trying to cross the border, and four people traveling with them were hospitalized, according to humanitarian groups in the area.

The border had been effectively sealed since last week, when Macedonia, along with Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, said it would no longer allow migrants to pass through on their way north.

The result has been growing pressure at the Greek-Macedonian border, where an estimated 12,000 to 14,000 migrants have been stuck in increasingly desperate conditions, including an outbreak of hepatitis A.

On Monday, the border finally gave way, at least temporarily. Hundreds of asylum seekers marched west from a squalid camp near the Greek village of Idomeni and waded into the Suva Reka, forming human chains to pass infants and toddlers over the rushing river to Macedonia.

The three people who drowned were Afghans, humanitarian groups working in the area said. Although Afghanistan is a poor and war-ravaged country, many Afghans are considered to have only a slim chance of being granted asylum after the European Union categorized them last month as economic migrants. Syrians and many Iraqis who are fleeing civil war and the threat of Islamic extremists have an easier case for asylum in Europe.

European Union officials, determined to avoid a repeat of last year, when the asylum system all but collapsed, agreed to a political deal with Turkey last week to stop migrants from pouring into southeastern Europe.

Under the deal, Turkey would receive financial aid and political consideration in exchange for preventing migrants, mostly Syrian, from risking their lives to cross the Aegean Sea. European officials would assess the asylum applications of Syrian refugees — and directly resettle those whose applications are approved — from refugee camps in Turkey.

The terms of the deal are to be hashed out in Brussels this week.

The authorities in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, did not provide an official comment on the situation Monday, but they were said to be considering forcing the migrants back to Idomeni, across the Greek border. Doing so could be politically damaging for Macedonia, a tiny country that was part of the former Yugoslavia and that has been trying since 2005 to join the European Union.

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Article from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/15/world/europe/european-refugee-crisis.html?smid=tw-nytimesworld&smtyp=cur&_r=0

Four Years Harvest- The Use of Cluster Ammunition


Published on Mar 31, 2015
Syrian Network for Human Rights
http://www.facebook.com/snhr
http://www.sn4hr.org

Syrian Refugees Walking on Slovenia Croatia Border

Bashar al-Assad: Syrian exodus is a “self-cleaning: provess of the State!

Refugees on Slovenia-Croatia border – drone video footage

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#AssadCrimes #PutinCrimes #barrelbombs #RussianAirstrikes #bombing #shelling #SyrianRefugees #RefugeesCrisis

Syrian Refugees Exodus

Published on Oct 24, 2015

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are making their way to Europe.

Although this number is smaller than the millions pouring into Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, it is a crisis dividing Europe.

Many Europeans are uneasy and concerned about what they feel is a lack of control and wonder who is coming and whether their societies can cope.

So what are the refugees seeking in Europe? And what do they have to say to Europeans who do not want them to come to their countries?

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