GR US

Letter from Athens: The Shame of the Moria Refugee Camp Disaster Isn't Just Greece's

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

As the notorious Moria refugee and migrant detention camp on the island of Lesbos was burning, the fire likely set by people frustrated over being pent up two years or more waiting for asylum applications to be processed and 35 cases of COVID-19 found, the European Union was fiddling.

The camp had been locked down after the discovery the Coronavirus was spreading after curiously being contained in a place that was essentially an open sewer housing human beings, none of whom really mattered to the EU.

Some 12,500 people were instantly left homeless and sleeping for nights on sidewalks, streets, graveyards, and parking lots, which was of no real concern to EU officials snuggled safe in their Brussels beds dreaming of tomorrow's free lunch.

It's been more than five years since the crisis began, at first seeing hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing war and strife in Afghanistan and Syria, and economic misery in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere using Turkey as a jumping-off point to get to Greek islands.

Their hope was to use Greece the same way, as a conduit to more prosperous EU countries like Germany and the United Kingdom – before London decided to leave the bloc – but they were stymied again when borders were closed to them.

That left some 100,000 stranded in Greece with the only option being to seek sanctuary as the EU and Turkey struck a 2016 swap deal that was supposed to see those deemed ineligible deported, but you could put on a small boat those who were.

At the time Moria was set up, the Looney Left SYRIZA of then-Premier Alexis “Blatherskite” Tspiras was in power and he said he was proud of the camp that the BBC said was “the worst in in the world.”

Now he's blaming the ruling New Democracy “Capitalists” and Prime Minister Kyriakos “Blue Blood” Mitsotakis for the disaster and pretending he had a secret plan ready to reduce overcrowding that was upset when he was ousted in July 7, 2019 snap polls.

He didn't mention he had 4 ½ years to do that, and returned to his true roots as a guttersnipe who takes shots while out of power and does nothing while in power, going so far as to say that he was holding Mitsotakis “personally responsible” for the disaster.

This is the same Tsipras who said he took only “political responsibility” for the July 23, 2018 wild fires that killed 103 people on his watch, the death toll so high because his amateur government had no plan to deal with a catastrophe.

Under SYRIZA, the numbers in Moria soared, so where was his secret plan then?

“The wound that is Moria should have been closed. And it was going to be closed,” he said, if only – aw shucks – he hadn't lost the election. “Instead of closing, though, the wound deepened,” he said.

That part is accurate although his government did the most damage by doing essentially nothing to improve conditions at Moria, bringing shame and disgrace to Greece's tradition of philoxenia.

New Democracy was moving to make the camp better – somewhat – and transfer the most vulnerable to the mainland but with the pandemic’s effects and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatening to unleash “millions” more the focus was off refugees and migrants despite their plight.

Much of the fault lies on the gutless EU, which has thrown some money and Frontext border patrols at the problem and hoped it would go away, which is the modus operandi in Brussels.

The man in charge of refugee and migrant affairs for the bloc is New Democracy's very own Margaritis Schinas, who honed his chops doublespeak spinning when he was the EU's spokesman and he's continuing it in his new role.

Like his predecessor in the post – New Democracy's very own Dimitris Avramopoulos who said he couldn't really handle it because the question of refugees and migrants was too politically sensitive – Schinas' management plan is all talk and no action.

Neither forced other EU countries to live up to pledges to help take some of the overload off Greece during a crushing economic and austerity crisis, nor take them to EU courts.

So instead of the B.S. with yesterday's chicken spread on it which comes out of Brussels and Athens, let's hear it from someone in Moria.

"We have spent three days here without eating, without drinking. We are in conditions that are really, really not very good," Freddy Musamba, a former camp resident from Gambia told the Associated Press a few days after the fire.

"I want to speak about the European Union, who abandoned us, who left us here like this," Musamba said. He called for the EU "to come and support us, to not leave us. We are like abandoned children. We have endured things we didn't know could happen."

So how about EU Commissioners and Greek politicians doing more than make in-and-out photo opportunity stops at places like Moria and spend a night there, shivering in a tent, wondering if they'll get stabbed on the way to a toilet, and if they'll wake up with rat biting their toe.

The words of Jung would be lost on them too, that “shame is a soul-eating emotion” because they have none.