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!

Volunteer on Chios

Welcome to my website !

My name is Janne Hegna. I am a Norwegian. I am married and we have 4 grown-up children. I hold a master degree in economics and management, and a bachelor in teaching.

I travelled to the Greek Isand of Chios in the beginning av January 2016 – and I have stayed here since – to volunteer helping refugees fleeing from war and violence.

From February to mid-October 2016 I worked as the Chios Field Coordinator for the Norwegian NGO “A Drop in the Ocean”.

I am still on Chios working as a volunteer, now focusing most on vulnerable refugees, especially children and mothers, cooperating with various national and international NGOs as well as the local authorities.

On this blog I will share my experience working for the refugee cause in cooperation with Greek and international NGO volunteers as well as the local authorities.

This is a sticky post informing about the blog. The newest post follows under. Please share a link to the blog or a post you like to others that may help by volunteering in Greece or donating money to Drop in the Ocean and other organisations  working for refugees.