Jungle of Athens: A small-talk in the rain under umbrellas and trees

It is late in the evening and the small community of homeless Afghans has moved close together to be at least a little bit protected from the rainfalls and the cold of the night. The cardboards used as sofas on the ground are wet. The few umbrellas protect the small children and the women. “It doesn’t matter to me, it matters to the small children. My pullover will become wet, then it will dry. But the babys, the become sick.” A few of the families found some temporary housing solutions, still they come and visit their friends outside in the park. Everybody is just thinking of leaving Greece. But how?

The lights of the basketball-court turn off, but nobody moves into the wet court. Above the small crowd of people inside the trees are their bags and blankets. There is no other safe place to store them. “I will put my children under the umbrella to sleep and I myself will sit awake all the night. Everything I do, is just for them,” M. has tears in her eyes. She is alone with her three children. “But I am strong, I will make it!” Most of the people are sick. The children have skin problems, the others a cold and all kinds of individual health problems. Instead of an appropriate health treatment the NGOs specialized in medical services can offer them only the recipes for the medicaments they need. But nobody of them can afford to buy them. Instead of being cured thy collect papers.

A group of men and youngsters is chatting about new rumors, about possibilities to leave through embassies on legal ways. They are all tired of Greece, tired of the daily problems, of being exposed to violence. An old man says: “You know, to get beaten up is normal for us here. It is something usual just like eating bread. We don’t even care anymore. Everybody has been beaten up here!” The others agree. “When I arrived in Athens, I didn’t know about the fascists,” a 14 year old boy says. His left eye is swollen from an old infection that he has since it was operated three times. “I went to St. Panteleimon looking for a place to stay, somebody to ask where to go. Six men beat me up without any reason. They didn’t like my face maybe. Then I ran away. The other day the police slapped me because I had no paper to show them. I lost it. Greece is not for me. Hopefully you will see me soon in Norway. This is the country I love. It is the best!” He smiles. It will be another long night for them…

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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.


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Voices from the Inside of Pagani (2009)

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