Where has Europe’s sense of decency gone?

I am frustrated about the refugee situation in Greece; especially with the backdrop of Europe (Greece and Italy) being the cradle of democracy. The situation peaked last Wednesday at Vial Hotspot Detention Center when we saw the EU flag next to the Greek flag at the entrance.

Welcome to Vial Detention Center on Chios, Greece
Welcome to Vial Detention Center on Chios, Greece

I have had such a great faith in Europe and Europe’s ability to promote peaceful human relations for all people on this little planet that we call the Earth. So what is the situation as of April 23rd 2016?

Vial hotspot detention center
Vial hotspot detention center

We have experienced that the European countries are closing their borders for people fleeing war and terror. We have experienced that the EU is forcing Greece to create hotspot detention camps to show that they can handle the refugee crisis and continue be part of EU.

The Antoniou class patrol boat of Greek Navy, P-287 HS Kelefstis Stamou
The Antoniou class patrol boat of Greek Navy, P-287 HS Kelefgtis Stamos in Chios harbor

Vial hotspot detention center is a prison where humans are imprisoned behind barbed wire fences. According to the UN 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights every human has a right to freedom and security (Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person). The people in Vial has neither liberty or personal security. They are imprisoned without a trial.

Is this treatment of fellow humans worthy of Europe? Can we just sit and watch this happening? No, of course, we cannot let this happen and do nothing.

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Drop in Ocean and People’s Street Kitchen volunteers are serving soup for hungry refugees in Vial

I’m so fortunate that I am the Chios coordinator of the Norwegian NGO Drop in the Ocean and get to be in the frontline of refugee work on the (Greek) Island. The “Drops” on Chios (and elsewhere in Greece) are working in the field where the refugees are (and not in offices). Depending on the present needs (which may change from day-to-day) the Drop in the Ocean volunteers (and other volunteers) are taking care of the refugees as they arrive on the beaches; wet, cold, scared and dehydrated and are feeding them in the camps during their stay.

In cooperation with two street/soup kitchens and other local and international volunteers, we feed about 2000 people on Chios at present, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner. As fewer boats have landed after the EU-Turkey deal was signed, most of our time is spent on the refugees/migrants already on the island.

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Buying orange juice for refugees
Happy refugee boy with orange juice
Happy refugee boy with orange juice and sandwich provided by the “Drops”
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Janne with happy refugee children

We also provide shoes, cloths, diapers, baby milk, baby food and a variety of sanitary products. These poor people have fled from all their belongings and arrive with not much more than the cloths they wear and perhaps a small amount of money and a smartphone to keep in contact with their family.

Our organization needs more volunteers and more donations to continue our work. I urge you to spend some of your time and some of your money on these poor people whose only crime was to be born in the wrong place at a wrong time in history. Let us show them that there still is some sense of decency and humanity in Europe!