Tuesday, February 18, 2020

'I get a lot of love': how hope survives in the hell of Moria

by Sam Wollaston


Februay 18, 2020

The refugee camp is notorious for its overcrowding, fires and riots. But for the people who live there, life goes on – and every day brings new stories of resilience, bravery and compassion

It is not easy to find the library at Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos. Before reaching the refugee camp’s main entrance, you turn off the road where the police bus is always parked, then walk up the track that runs beside the perimeter fence. You walk past the military post and the hawkers selling fruit and veg, trainers, cooking utensils, cigarettes, electrical equipment – pretty much everything; past huge stinking mountains of bagged-up rubbish – so much rubbish; and past the worst toilets in the world, overflowing with excrement and plastic.

Then, opposite the hole in the fence where people who don’t want to use the main gate come and go, you turn right, into what they call the Jungle, the olive groves into which the camp has exploded, because it was meant for 3,000 people and now has 20,000. Continue along the winding path, watching out for low-slung washing lines, past the burnt-out olive tree and the tiny tent with the family who always say hello, then turn left up the steep hill that becomes a muddy slide after rain. And there it is, on the right: Moria’s new library.

From the outside, it looks like all the other structures in this part of the camp – a shack cobbled together from bits of wood and tarpaulins. But inside there are shelves and books. And, standing behind a counter, wearing a New York Yankees beanie, a librarian – Zekria, from Afghanistan.

He runs a school, too – that is how the library started. Zekria, 40, his wife and their five children arrived on the island a year ago in the usual perilous way, in a small boat at night across the 12-mile strait from Turkey. He tried to register the kids at one of the NGO-run schools that provide some educational activities, but they were all full; the waiting list could have been a month, two months, three months.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

'Are there any Chinese there?' Greek tourism hit hard by cancellations amid coronavirus outbreak

by Symela Touchtidou


February 12, 2020

The effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus are not just about those who have caught it. The outbreak has had significant knock-on effects on the Chinese economy, as well as the tourism industry worldwide.

In Greece, about 200,000 tourists arrived in 2019 and at least 250,000 were expected this year.

The island of Santorini is a beloved destination for many Chinese tourists. But since the outbreak, scores are simply not showing up.

The rate may be small, but it is critical, as Chinese tourists travel in low demand times (especially in winter, when they have New Year's holidays). Also, Chinese people spend more on their holidays than average tourists spend in Europe.

Of the Chinese tourists coming to Greece, 90% end up in Santorini.


Friday, February 7, 2020

Greek oligarchs battle over football league

by Kerin Hope

Financial Times

February 7, 2020

One of the Greek oligarchs is dubbed the Kremlin’s man because of his links with Vladimir Putin. The other is a shipping magnate and the proprietor of a media empire.

But their wealth and influence has not stopped Ivan Savvidis and Vangelis Marinakis getting sucked into a bitter argument over football.

The feud between the two men burst into the political arena when Greece’s centre-right government intervened unexpectedly to legislate to settle a row over their rival teams.

Greece’s independent sports authority last week called for the relegation of Mr Savvidis’s PAOK, the country’s top team, amid a row over ownership. Two days later, the government pushed through an emergency law that effectively prevented the relegation but docked Mr Savvidis’s PAOK of points, a move that is likely to ensure that Mr Marinakis’s Olympiakos, its closest rival, will win the championship.