Dear friends, comrades and everyone out there who cares about the fate of people on the move and the inhumane situation at the borders,
First of all, thank you all for donating so much (again) last winter and showing your solidarity with people on the move. Again and again we are touched by this broad participation and empathy. It shows that we are many and together we can actively do something against the current conditions at the EU borders. In this letter, we want to tell you what happened at the EU borders in 2021 from our perspective, where support is needed and where we were able to support through our work.
The Moria 2.0 camp and court sentences after the fire in the old Moria camp
As you probably noticed, after the fire in Moria, what used to be the largest refugee camp in Europe, on the Greek island of Lesbos in the autumn of 2020, thousands of people lost a roof over their heads and had to live on the streets and were without any supplies in the middle of the pandemic. The glimmer of hope that a terrible camp like Moria would not be repeated after it burned down was quickly crushed when the Greek government quickly built the new Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos. Hard to imagine, yet a sad reality: the humanitarian conditions and repression in the camp, which is located on a former military training ground right on the waterfront and where people live in tents during the winter, are even worse than in the old camp. Thus, the name “Moria 2.0” was quickly born. Nevertheless, even though the solidarity support of the people on the ground is much more difficult now, the No Border Kitchen Lesbos and others support the people wherever it is possible.
After the fire in Moria, six young people from the Afghan Hazara ethnicity were made scapegoats within a few days and declared responsible for the fire. In a very short time and without in-depth investigations, the six boys (five of them minors) were placed in pre-trial detention and finally sentenced to long prison terms lasting years in March and June of this year. There is no strong evidence in their case and the trial is highly politically loaded, so we judge the whole case as unfair and not in accordance with the rule of law. We have accompanied the case together with other groups in solidarity from here and on the ground and are still in contact with the relatives of the detainees.
The situation on the Polish-Belarusian border.
Poland – Belarus – Afghanistan and Northern Iraq. The Taliban takeover this summer is currently forcing thousands of people to flee Afghanistan, after international forces left head over heels this year, leaving behind many desperate people – no matter if so-called local forces or not. The situations for FLINTA (women, Lesbians,Intersexual, Non-binary, trans. and/or asexual People), (human rights) activists, artists etc. is catastrophic and currently there is a general threat of hunger in Afghanistan.
In addition, the situation for many Kurds and Yezidis in Northern Iraq is precarious, even after the defeat of the so-called IS, so that many people from there are also trying to come to Europe, among others, to their families, while the EU is forcibly closing itself off. This desperate situation has been used by the Belarusian dictator Lukachenko to instrumentalize the fleeing people and to blackmail the EU. Thus, thousands were and are being flown visa- and quarantine-free from Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and other countries to Minsk and brought to the Polish border. Once there, they are stuck at the border and are pushed back and forth illegally by the Polish and Belarusian border guards and military with all force, with tear gas and water cannons being used against children and families at temperatures around freezing point. The EU and Germany deny them the right to asylum and watch people freeze to death in the forests, while at the same time blocking and criminalizing any NGOs, emergency medical care, press or food of accessing. The situation is reminding of the EU leaving people to die in the Mediterranean Sea. But nevertheless also at the Belarusian-Polish border activists are on the ground and try to get in contact with the people who are stuck there and support them, for example the Polish Grupa Granica.
Bosnia: Winter is coming
Heavy rains in Bosnia continue to affect large parts of the country, flooding the temporary camps that People on the Move (PoM) are setting up. Many local people, for example in the regions around Bihać and Velika Kladuša, are in need of assistance with basic needs such as drinking water and food, and medical care. On top of that, the coming winter is becoming more and more present here as well. One of the most important resources is firewood, which is also difficult to obtain here, and for which supporters must always seek new ways of financing.
Violence is made the norm here: Every day, activist groups on the ground support several PoM groups, for whom pushbacks by (border) police are an everyday occurrence. These pushbacks are illegal and make clear that the fundamental right to asylum no longer exists in the European Union. EU border guards systematically carry out this practice on a daily basis. Our contacts report about the violent interventions of the border police, during which they experience psychological and physical violence. Often, they are additionally deprived of personal items on which they are fundamentally dependent, including cell phones and power banks.
Our response is solidarity
Nevertheless, activism and resistance against the brutal border regime are continuing. There are still support structures and practical solidarity in various places where people are stuck. People are organizing together, documenting violence and pushbacks, creating their own publicity when the media stops showing events, and covering very practical things like food for cooking, medical care, costs for lawyers to defend basic rights.
Our solidarity will never end. The situation for people on the move is becoming more and more precarious, access to sometimes simple needs is also severely limited by the pandemic – and the donations are almost exhausted.
Therefore, we turn to you again today with the request to support us (again).
What did we achieve with your donations in 2021?
With your donations and a total of many thousands of euros of donations the No Border Kitchen Lesbos and other local initiatives have supported the people stranded there with hot meals, drinks, blankets and clothing in practical solidarity in 2021. We cannot give them back their dignity, but we can give them the feeling that they are not alone and that there are also people in Europe who show solidarity with them.
We have also used your donations to support the work of social initiatives along the so-called Balkan route, in Greece and Turkey, and on the Polish border with Belarus. We also support places where refugees live, which support people on the move or stand up for the rights of refugees and for freedom of movement.
We have been able to make a difference through your support. In order to be able to realize our plans now and in the future, we ask all our friends, comrades and people in solidarity to support us with donations according to their strength and possibilities or to consider how and where you can raise funds in your surrounding so that we can continue to work together.
Help us to keep the kettle steaming.
Please share this call everywhere.
You can’t Evict Solidarity as part of the campaign “No Border – No Nation – Just People”
Bank account for donations:
Owner: VVN/BdA Hannover
Purpose of donation: just people
Bank: Postbank Hannover
IBAN: DE67 250 100 3000 4086 1305
(mind the purpose!)