Pagani Campaign continues

DSCF1820For the last days, we have been putting up quite a fight to get Pagani, that outrageous detention centre for refugees, closed. Today saw the visit of the UNHCR director for Greece to that jail.

A small group of activists had gathered at the site. Again, loud shouts for freedom could be heard from inside as well a outside of Pagani. When the UNHCR director left, we pressed him for a statement.

Q: Does this prison match international and greek law?
A: No, of course not.

Q: What do you think about it?
A: It needs to be closed, and this was decided one year ago one year ago, on ministerial level. For some reasons, bureaucracy reasons or others, it was abandoned. it is completely inacceptable.

Q: What about the minors?
A: Minors should not be here, you know that the problem is, there is not enough space in special facilities. Again: central authorities and competent ministers should planify and create special accomodation for minors.

Q: To imprison minors is a clear breach of the law. Can the UNHCR not get an injunction from court?
A: The UNHCR is putting pressure on the authorities.

Q: But this is no immediate solution.
A: The immediate solution is to take these minors as quick as possible and find another accomodation facility for them. If this is not possible, we the authorities need to look for alternative measures. They could rent places. Of course we agree that in some days, even tomorrow if possible, all of these minors should be transferred.

Q: What is your stance on detention?
A: Detention has to be done according to principles that are not met here. Detention should not be the automatic, it should be applied case-by-case, with an individual decision. But here, this is not the practice, this is not the way it should be. There are categories of people that should not be detained.

You have a lot of breaches of the law. Even if you don’t agree with the measure itself, it could be done in a way that the pain would be released for many people.

Q: There is no functioning asylum system in Greece?
A: No no no, unfortunately for us, the UNHCR, asylum has become a minor issue in this crisis. Faced with such conditions, who will ask for asylum? Of course they only want their freedom. If they see that after 2,3 weeks there are no interviews, they will retreat from their asylum application.

Afterwards, the UNHCR director moved to a meeting in the local government, where also activists from the camp participated to again press for the immediate closure of Pagani. Since this was close to the newly formed infopoint, some 200 activists had gathered there and wrapped building in a giant noborder banner (which was already used in the noborder camp Calais 2009).

Also, the exhibition “the border is everywhere – Schengen agreement – effects, instruments and resistance” in greek and english was unveiled at the infopoint.

About w2eu

This is the blog of the antiracist network Welcome to Europe. It was formerly known as


The name Welcome to Europe expresses the discontent and anger we feel when looking at the fatal realities of the European external border: the long documented deaths and suffering have continued for years, and no end is in sight. We stand for a grassroots movement that embraces migration and wants to create a Europe of hospitality.


We maintain our focus on the European external border in Greece, but will not limit ourselves to that geographical area. The right of freely roaming the globe has to be fought for everywhere. Join us!


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Voices from the Inside of Pagani (2009)

Watch the video