There were three main reasons for our trip to Samos this August: firstly to meet up with Georgia who has so kindly been making time (inspite of her very intensive english teaching program) to guide our purchases and distribute our donations in the jungle camp. We made the final purchases from the COVID grant and tied up the last details of this program with her. We have bought and given out over 9000€ of hygiene items to combat the pandemic (thanks largely to the grant of 10,000 US $) awarded to us by KKR.
Georgia also took us to see the camps for ourselves and we were finally able to witness first hand the appalling conditions in which the asylum seekers are living and to imagine how it must have been when there were several thousands rather than several hundreds living in these conditions, with just one tap of running water for all. The numbers of residents reduced quickly at the beginning of summer: with the approaching tourist season the deliverance of the permissions to leave the island to recognised refugees was suddenly speeded up and many people took the ferry to Athens. Even the camp director says he doesn’t know exactly how many refugees are left on Samos.
In the photos it is possible to see how the jungle built up to the left and right of the official camp and previously stretched over a much larger area. On the left hand photo one can see where the jungle stretched out especially to the right where it went right up to the bare area of the quarry. It was enormous.
The third important reason to be there was to meet the director of the official camp and to see the future of our tree planting program in the new camp. We were received kindly and he told us that he is hoping to transfer the asylum seekers to the new camp in the hills in the autumn, after which our planting of the trees will take place.
A brief, unofficial, trip to the new camp, lost in the dry hills, made the immensity of it evident and also the need for trees!. This new camp will have all facilities on site from a supermarket to hospital, and the residents will have electronic bracelets to control their whereabouts, and only being allowed out at certain times.
Need for help will continue on Samos, as elsewhere in Greece. Unfortunately the Greek population is feeling overwhelmed and abandoned, resentment both against the refugees and against Europe is widespread. Although there has been a reduction in number of refugees arriving in Greece this year (due principally to the illegal pushbacks at sea and increased patrolling of the borders), the international situation continues to seriously worsen and we must be prepared for the ever increasing need for aid.