Saturday, October 15, 2016
‘We’re never getting out of here’: How refugees became stranded in Greece
October 14, 2016
When Europe abruptly closed its land borders last spring to refugees fleeing war, it made a much-heralded promise: Wealthy nations across the European Union would take in tens of thousands of desperate Syrians and Iraqis who had made it as far as near-bankrupt Greece only to find themselves trapped.
But one by one, those nations have reneged, turning primitive camps such as this one into dire symbols of Europe’s broken pledge.
Amid allegations of Greek mismanagement, this site on the grounds of an abandoned toilet-paper factory still lacks basic heat, even as nighttime temperatures dip into the low 50s.
Mosquitoes infest the white canvas tents of refugee families stranded here for months. A 14-year-old Syrian girl was recently raped. There are reports of stabbings, thefts, suicide attempts and drug dealing.
“I won’t go out alone anymore,” said Rama Wahed, a 16-year-old Syrian girl hugging herself in her family’s tent.
In the opposite corner, her 17-year-old brother, Kamal, stared blankly ahead. Since their father died in Syria, he is the “man of the family.” But he looks like a lost little boy. Like so many other families here, their family of five has been waiting for word to go somewhere, anywhere but here. Caught in a broken system, they are losing hope.