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4 years after the EU-Turkey Statement, the human rights atrocities unfolding across the Aegean Islands are worse than ever. In all our years here, we’ve never seen it so bad. Right now, over 5,000 asylum seekers are stranded on Chios; Souda is long gone; Vial is overcrowded; humane policies lie dead in the water.
Thousands of children are living in tents outside the barbed wire gates of Vial; they’re deprived of access to showers and food, let alone education. Hundreds of unaccompanied and separated children fend for themselves in a riotous and unsafe camp. The big NGOs have fled the scene; there’s no funding for projects from the European Union or from Greece. Instead, a local, national and international politics of hostility is driving fear into the hearts of asylum seekers, and making the continued work of grassroots groups ever more precarious.
But in spite of this, we are determined not to let this wave of insensibility and irresponsibility crash upon us.
Not on our watch.
After working non-stop, we are pushing harder than ever, and are opening a new, essential space to meet the growing needs ignored by the competent authorities. To complement our existing Youth Centre and Learning Centre, we’re transforming a new warehouse space into a retreat for children and young adults. Offering warmth, showers, food, classes and a host of recreational activities, this is at heart about providing frontline, emergency psychosocial care, protection, and access to the most basic of rights.
To do this, we've asked for and received help. We are thrilled to announce that our long-standing partners and friends at Be Aware And Share - BAAS are returning to the field to co-implement this project with us. With the additional support of Choose Love, we're preparing to face down more challenges as 2020 gets underway.
Finally, we’re calling out to NGOs and volunteer groups to come to Chios, to invest in desperately needed services, and, if any group has the capacity, to support the refugee communities here. There are many ways to get involved. So please reach out and speak to us.