From 14th July the Asylum Service started pre-registration of asylum seekers residing in urban (non-camp) settings. Asylum Links EU has been providing information on the process to these people, working closely with UNHCR, who provided some resources, but asked us to design the strategy. Because there are many vulnerable and isolated people residing in cities, we feel it is important they know they can choose to access official refugee protection if they want to.
Last week, the team members were spreading information around Central Thessaloniki and the surrounding camps. One of the areas that we focused on was that immediately surrounding the train station in Thessiloniki. More than 400 people (mainly of Afghan and Pakistani origin) were staying homeless around the station. We put up posters containing all the official information on the pre-registration process, the times and deadlines to get pre-registered by and how to reach the office in several languages, in all areas that had a visible refugee presence.
While doing so we found other organizations providing these refugees with the basic needs such as food and hygiene items.
We also visited Sindos-Frakapor military camp and spent some time speaking with Syrian Kurds who have been living in the camp since 25 May, after the closure of Idomeni. We were told that approximately 600 to 700 people live in the warehouse turned camp which means it is at full capacity. According to UNCHR information 90% of refugees are Syrian, 7% Iraqi and 3% other, and of this 60% are children, 25% women and 15% men. The shelters provided are 12 square meter army tents within the warehouse space, and over 20 of these tents located outside the warehouse in the hot Greek summer sun.
Meals are provided daily three times by the Greek army but are complained of being very repetitive consisting of “pasta, potato, pasta, potato, every day”. Breakfast is made up of one packaged croissant and a cartoon of orange juice. At times volunteers are able to gain access to the camp to distribute other food types, but this does not occur daily.
Although there is a doctor available on site twice daily, morning and evening, residents are disappointed by the standard of the service and are only provided the exact amount of medication needed for a short time. We spoke with one young Syrian woman who is a diabetic and is now pregnant and is not receiving any extra supplements which is a huge concern considering the lack of nutrients in the food she is receiving in the camp.
Residents have been told daily that the camp will be receive WIFI “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow” but have now been waiting for this tomorrow for almost a month and a half. We also noticed an issue with clothing supply and one resident complained by pointing out the poor quality of the shoes and clothes he was wearing.
We distributed information packs to residents and accepted the kind offer of a refugee who took more to distribute himself. We now have shared contact details with a number of camp representative who will contact us when they have questions or need further information. We aim to return to do a workshop once the pre-registration exercise moves to its next stage - the Full Hosting Interviews.