Greece: police bans volunteers from helping out refugees

A disabled Somalian woman is transferred to the shore, Lesvos, Greece (phot. Nicolas Georgiou)

The following piece highlights the tactics of intimidation deployed by local authorities and businesses in Lesvos against volunteers and activists providing help and support to newly-arrived refugees. It seems perfectly clear that the police is acting unlawfully when volunteers are ordered not to approach certain areas on the island, based on the assumption that refugees affect the tourism industry negatively. The lack of concern of the local police in helping out with the issues that refugees struggle with and the reluctance to protect volunteers from being targeted by malicious persons stems from its priority to mainly protect business interests over human lives.  It’s worth to mention that two weeks ago Syriza MP Ilias Kamateros also received death threats by unknown persons for trying to find a solution to the problems caused by the lack of resources and housing on the island.

Eric Kempson

We are now banned from giving “first aid” to refugees in Eftalou, because of the people from the hot springs!

We have avoided naming them before in order to protect the reputation of Eftalou, but from now on any and all threats that come our way will publicized, names and business names, I will not be threatened or intimidated!

Today we managed to find the time to visit the bank in Molyvos to pay our taxes, while we were in the bank our car tire was stabbed two times with a knife!

Later we were photographed on the road with water for the refugees by a lady who works at the hot springs in Eftalou and then filmed by an employee there who says she was just trying to help. It seems then that these people from the hot springs went to the police in Molyvos and Kaloni and said we have threatened them!!!

We were summoned to the police station, Eric took the stabbed tire so the police could see what had happened. The result of the visit is we are now banned from the beach in Eftalou and instructed that we cannot give aid or water on the road even!! So because of the people who run the hot springs and make their living from foreign tourists, dehydrated women and children have to walk 4km in the sun without water before we are allowed to help them!!

We will continue to help the refugees but now we have to wait for them to walk 4km to us.

You people say that tourism is being damaged by the refugee crisis, the only reason tourism is being damaged is because of they way you have treated them and those that are trying to give humanitarian aid!! History is full of stories about people like you!!! You must be so pleased with yourselves!!!!!


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