July 18, 2018
Have you heard of the PIKPA solidarity camp in Lesvos?
PIKPA is a success story. It is an open, self-organized camp, that has provided essential services and assistance to asylum seekers in Lesvos, Greece, since 2012. But the Greek authorities are now threatening to close it. Oxfam, together with many other organizations, is calling on the authorities to review their decision.
Add your voice to the protest and sign the petition against the closure of PIKPA!
PIKPA camp hosts some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers arriving in Lesvos, including many families and children. It is run by several groups and volunteers, including the non-profit organization “Lesvos Solidarity”, and provides essential services to the residents of the camp.
People receive daily meals, clothing and care items. There is a medical center and psychological support, and everyone is offered recreational and educational activities, including a daily preschool program and literacy classes for theolder ones. There are daily safe swimming lessons, and Greek and English language classes delivered by teachers from Lesvos.
In 2016, the UNHCR awarded the Nansen Refugee Award to one of the co-founders of PIKPA, in recognition of their work saving lives and providing a safe haven for the most vulnerable during the refugee ‘crisis’ in 2015.
A safe and supportive space at risk of closure
At the end of June, the Regional Governor of the North Aegean Region decided to suspend the operations of the non-profit organization “Lesvos Solidarity” in PIPKA camp. The official justifications were alleged shortcomings related to public health found during an inspection by the official hygiene service.
According to Lesvos Solidarity, the shortcomings were minor – a “broken net in the food distribution area”, a “leak in a water tank for the laundry machines” and “deficiencies in the common kitchen area” where the refugees cook their own food. These shortcomings were immediately addressed and fixed.
Lesvos Solidarity also explained that the inspection was carried out right after the Lesvos police had asked PIKPA camp to host 250 more people – three times as much as normal – after many migrants had fled from violent clashes in the official EU migration ‘hotspot’ camp on Lesvos, Moria.
Oxfam encourages the Greek government to ensure that all reception facilities meet minimum standards of safety and hygiene. PIKPA solidarity camp is, and has been, in much better conditions than the Moria camp, where over 7,500 asylum seekers are living in inhumane and unhygienic, overcrowded conditions that often lead to violent clashes.
The decision to close PIKPA instead of working with those who run the camp to jointly respond to the emergency situation in June is a disproportionate and unfair response.
Oxfam stands with PIKPA and publicly asks the Regional Governor of the North Aegean to reconsider her decision.
PIKPA’s closure would have severe consequences and endanger the families and children hosted there – currently around 150 people – since there is currently no alternative accommodation for them, be it in Lesvos or on the mainland.
In a public statement with 10 other Non-Governmental Organizations, Oxfam urged the Regional Governor of the North Aegean to reconsider her decision to close PIKPA and called on the Greek Government to continue supporting the outstanding contributions of PIPKA and the Greek citizens who have displayed thousands of acts of solidarity, humanity and compassion towards refugees. These voluntary acts by ordinary Greek people are a source of national pride and international recognition which should be replicated.
PIKPA is a safe space for vulnerable asylum seekers which offers a humane reception for people in need. It is important to protect and support spaces of solidarity and coexistence like this one.
Stand for solidarity, and sign the petition to #SavePikpa!
Author : Oxfam International EU Advocacy