16 March 2016 Helliniko
About Refugees: Citizens show the way. What are the government and European Union doing?
On Sunday, 6 March the Network of Social Solidarity organized an event at Syntagma square in Athens. They called on individuals to bring much needed items for the refugees and immigrants here in Greece. The turnout was overwhelming and participation exceeded everyone’s expectation. People of all ages answered the call and brought food, health and personal hygiene supplies, games for the children and medication. The Network for Social Solidarity had chosen our clinic to manage the medication and for this special honor we thank them. 431 large cartons and bags full of medication and pharmaceutical items filled our clinic from one end to the other and it took us a week, with all hands on deck to check the medications and get them sorted. A large portion of these donations has already been sent to the Community Clinic and Pharmacy at Kilkis and will be used at Idomeni camp for their needs.
Since last summer our clinic has worked together with doctors and other volunteers at Helliniko and lately, also at the port of Piraeus, providing help and medication and health and hygiene supplies. We, as a social clinic, which absolutely does not accept financial donations, have received the trust and generosity of people who support us every day by donating medication, supplies, infant formula and diapers. Every time we issue a call for a specific item, the response is more than generous. For our part, we want all to know exactly how these donations have been used and where they have gone.
In addition to covering the needs of our patients – who are uninsured, unemployed and destitute) we try and respond to the needs of other social clinics throughout Greece, groups supporting the disabled, public hospitals and public social welfare facilities as well as requests we have from other institutions, if we have the resources in hand.
As regards the refugees sheltering in Greece, from the first, we have repeatedly and regularly sent medicines to the islands of Lesvos, and Leros, as well as parks where refugees were camping in Athens and often to Kilkis, for those waiting at the border at Idomeni. As soon as the Tae Kwan Do stadium was opened to refugees, we sent doctors and covered pharmaceutical needs. We have supported and will continue to support the clinic at the Hockey stadium at Helliniko. We became active immediately with the refugees at the port in Piraeus. Our doctors rushed to assist and provide medications. We do the same with the refugees staying at the old airport at Helliniko
We have no illusions about the contributions we make. Whatever help the social clinics and pharmacies can provide is a drop in an ocean of needs, not only for the refugees and immigrants themselves, but generally for Greeks, both those uninsured and insured. But at the same time we cannot stand by and not be involved, even though we firmly believe that this not our duty, but the duty of the state. The same state that has, for the past 6 years, cut off millions of citizens from health insurance and left them to their fate. A state that has only now – one year after an ever increasing refugee problem, started making tentative steps of coordination and assistance for our fellow human beings, most of whom are escaping from war zones.
There is a lot we can say about the lack of concern from the state. All you have to do is look at the number of Greek and foreign organizations that are active in the last year working on this problem and trying to fill the gap.
The hypocrisy of the European Union is evident, talking about civilized behavior on the one hand while its members erect walls and razor wire creating barriers to keep refugees from reaching the “heart” of Europe. A Europe that talks about the humanitarian crisis but not about the part it played in creating it. To make the point, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has made a clear declaration that the closing of the Balkan route is not only a decision of individual countries, but the decision of the “28” of the EU.
The role of our own country, Greece, is quite clear. It will constitute the first landing where the refugees will be “packed tight.” Fellow members of the EU are turning Greece into a detention camp for souls who are suddenly labeled as “unlawful illegals, no matter what the reason they came here.” They are to be returned to Turkey. What next? We are to be informed later.
At the same time, we are told that the EU is disposed to set apart 700 million euros to provide help for the refugees for the next two to three years. Of course! Those same refugees that are stuck in Greece, have had the so called “Balkan Route” closed to them. The other Balkan countries have closed their borders. And the cherry on the cake of this hypocrisy is that the money will go directly to NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) – a total disdain toward the Greek government which makes us wonder on what criteria this aid will be given and to who? One cannot help but be skeptical about the whole project and we wonder if the money will end up where it should.
At present, Greece is basically trying to keep mum about the big problems while doing the “dirty work” of the EU. There are countless complaints by immigrants and refugees who are loaded on to buses, and travel, under police escort, to camps far way from the border. All this certainly does not solve the problem; it just prolongs the torture and exhaustion of these refugees/immigrants. Our country cannot solve this problem on its own. But what can be done is to show these unworkable plans for what they are.
We’ll do our best to show how such policies are negative and destructive and to shed light on a way out, by taking the path of solidarity and love.
Our citizens know that the persecuted fellow humans who have come to our shores are not the enemy. The enemy is:
- The one who chased them away
- The one who does not give them shelter
- The one who won’t share a piece of bread with them
- The one who plots against his own country for profit and power.
We, united together will vanquish this foe with the sole “weapon” of solidarity which has taken deep root in the hearts of us all.
METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO
(MONDAY – FRIDAY 10:00 – 20:00) and (SATURDAY 10:00 – 14:00)
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER: +30 210 9631950
ADDRESS: Inside the old American Military Base,
(200m away from the Traffic Police of the Municipality
of Helleniko, next to the Cultural Center of Helleniko)
Post code TK16777, Elliniko, Attiki, Greece