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In Lesbos, the precarious living conditions of refugees awaiting asylum

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                European Commissioner Ylva Johansson visited the Greek island of Lesbos on Monday.  Since the Moria camp fire six months ago, the transfer of refugees to the European continent has accelerated.  But the 7,000 or so people still there are resigned to waiting months for their asylum application to be examined.

                                    <p>In the reception center for migrants and refugees in Lesbos, the days are long and painful for exiles like Shukran and Lida Shirzad.  Both are from Kabul, Afghanistan.  One is a painter and the other is a teacher.  They arrived from neighboring Turkey two years ago, but their asylum request has been unanswered since.

“This painting tells the story of refugees like us. We were looking for a better future, and we were afraid of drowning. Fortunately, the NGOs helped us. And we hope one day to be able to leave here by plane”, explains Shukran. .

Until six months ago, both were living in the hell of Moria camp, the most important and unsanitary center in Europe. In September 2020, a huge fire ravaged it and all asylum seekers were transferred to this former Greek army shooting camp.

“I did not imagine Europe like that”, confides Lida. “I thought it was safety and education. I was a teacher in Kabul and I am very sad to see the children playing with the trash and doing nothing else.”

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The Greek government has pledged to build a new reception center on the other side of the island of Lesvos, but in the face of protests from locals the project is behind schedule. In the meantime, some are getting organized like Maryam, refugee and volunteer for the NGO Because We Carry in Lesbos for a year and a half. “There are more than 300 pregnant women and 400 babies we are helping. We give them milk and food,” she explains.

The health measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic have not improved the situation there, a situation which still seems fragile.


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