Vathy, 20th August 2023 (International Refugee Day) – A report out today provides testimony from people who are or have been accommodated in the Samos CCAC in 2023. The testimonies create a picture of the inhuman and degrading conditions people are subjected to in the EU-funded structure and call into question claims from the Greek and EU authorities of CCACs being a “humane” approach to migration.
The testimonies were collected by I Have Rights, with the support of Samos Volunteers, two Samos based organisations. The report, entitled “They are killing minds” presents the testimonies, broken down into five key areas of concern: the structure, safety, health, food and water and hygiene conditions.
People interviewed often detailed the impact of the prison-like structure of the CCAC. For example, they explained that the accommodation containers feel like “a grave”, that there is a lack of privacy and that people are subjected to extensive security measures. For example, a female respondent spoke of the shame and embarrassment she felt when being body searched to be allowed entrance into the structure. Many respondents reported being afraid of the police in the CCAC and report being treated unfairly by them.
“Even in my country, I have never been in a prison like this place. Our freedom is limited. It’s a place we call “the next African prison”. Minds are destroyed. Mentally, psychological illness is killing people in this camp. People lost lives, lost babies, lost families. We came here because we needed protection. We expected a house, not a prison.” – explains a resident of the CCAC in their testimony.
Additionally, the quality and quantity of food provided in the CCAC was frequently raised by respondents, with asylum seekers reporting having to “remove the green” or that the food has started to “ferment, sweat, rise” upon being distributed. People receive food only twice a day: a piece of bread and a fruit in the morning and a small packaged meal at 1pm. Even when the food provided is edible, the quantities are not sufficient to sustain an adult with their needed nutrition intakes.
Agathe Schramm, Advocacy Officer at I Have Rights explains – “The people we interviewed experienced so much pain even before arriving to Greece. When they make it here, their freedom is severely restricted and the hostile infrastructure in which they are accommodated traumatises them further.”
Together the testimonies from asylum seekers on Samos challenge the narrative that CCACs are a humane and dignified way to accommodate people seeking protection in the EU. As one of the respondents demands:
“We need authorities to close the camp. To close the camp is my suggestion, close this camp and move us to another safe place.”
I Have Rights echoes this demand and calls for the closure of CCACs in Greece and for the accommodation of people seeking safety in dignified community-based housing schemes that respects their freedom of movement and allows them access to services and support.
Read the full report in English:
Read the full report in Arabic:
Ella Dodd – Project Coordinator at I Have Rights.
Phone: +30 697 3528096
The report was supported by funds of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Office in Greece.