Lesbos – Mytilini Hospital

For the beginning of this story we have to go back to October of last year. To the huge disaster that took place at that time. Dozens of refugees were killed in the sea at Lesbos. Our medical team was prepared and did what it could to save human lives. Several children were resuscitated and transported to the hospital in Mytilini. Having arrived there, while resuscitating, we unfortunately had to discover that the medical knowledge and equipment were lacking. This literally cost human lives.

Our medical co-ordinator at the time, Michel Abdel Malek, could not stomach this and started to look for sponsors for Boat Refugee Foundation, for new medical equipment to provide first aid in the hospital.

Last week the moment was there: over 10.000 euros worth of high tech equipment was presented to the hospital staff in Mytilini.

Doctors from the AMC in Amsterdam joined forces with Boat Refugee Foundation and provided training for the hospital staff. This way, the staff became familiar with the new equipment.

These were great days! Aid workers on Lesbos are now fully prepared to save even more lives (boat refugees ánd Greek).

Would you like to support our work?
Please donate to IBAN account number: NL97 RBRB 0918 9326 37 f.a.o. Stichting Bootvluchteling .
Or through the donation button at the top of this page.

Medical Mission – Medical team at work during riots

Eye witness account from Moria

Yesterday afternoon and last night, riots broke out in Camp Moria. Team manager Marko explains: “For several months now, the medical team of Boat Refugee Foundation provides nightly medical consultations in Moria. When we heard of the news about the riots, our new medical co-ordinator Jelmer Kooistra decided that it would be wise to go to Moria outside of our normal working schedule, to provide medical assistance.

Firstly, the camp was evacuated, which means that all relief workers had to leave the camp. For a long time, the police sealed off the camp hermetically, to get the situation under control. The riots were caused by two isolated incidents. Anger of the men in the camp about the treatment of a boy in the closed ‘unaccompanied minor’ area, and later on, a fight between Pakistani and Afghan boys in that same closed area.

After the seriousness of the situation within Camp Moria became apparent, we have been able to convince the authorities to allow us to go into the camp with our medical van. This after our doctors had already treated the first patients outside the camp. We were one of the first medical teams present and in the right place at the right time with our van. We have taken care of around twenty patients, most of them with fractures and head injuries.
Together we feel we can be proud of our medical team, and of our field team that came to support us later in the form of blankets, warm clothing, food and drink.

Any relief worker in Moria will be able to tell you that the events of yesterday did not occur overnight. If the situation does not change, it will not be the last time. There is a shortage of everything and the hopelessness of the refugee situation only makes this worse. We hope that Boat Refugee Foundation will be able to remain helping these people, who need our help so desperately.”

Without your help, our medical team would not have been able to provide this medical care. Thank you very much for all donations. You can donate through the button at the top of this page or to account number NL97 RBRB 0918 9326 37 f.a.o. Stichting Bootvluchteling.

Idomeni – The people at Idomeni

“Mahram has two small pliers. He uses one to cut the barbed wire and the other one to bend it. He cuts out the sharp tips first and makes straight wires of equal length of the rest. That’s when the real work starts: bending, fitting, measuring, repairing. He is proud of his collection of vehicles. Race cars, airplanes, helicopters. Mahram lives with his wife and children in a converted Decathlon tent, in the bushes behind the station building, next to the tracks.”

Mahram is one of the refguees stranded at the Greek-Macedonian border. Volunteer Dylan wrote several short stories which we would like to share with you as a trilogy.

Boat Refugee Foundation has been active on the Greek-Macedonian border as of April 1. The situation is heart breaking. Your support is necessary. Will you please help? You can donate throug the donation button at the top of this page or by using NL97 RBRB 0918 9326 37 f.a.o. Stichting Bootvluchteling.

Lesbos – Thankfulness

Volunteer Yvonne tells her story

“The older Afghan woman just gave me a big hug. Her arms around me, a soft kiss on my cheek. She spoke in her own language. I didn’t know what she was saying. But I understood her just fine. Her gratitude touched me deeply.

She was grateful because I picked her up from Moria with our car. Together with her three sons. And took her to a camp where things are much better. Without a fence around it. Without thick walls. Without barbed wire. Without police, Frontex and military personnel. Without riot police van out front. But with volunteers who care about people… Volunteers who treat them as human beings.

On request of UNHCR, Boat Refugee Foundation transports groups of vulnerable refugees from Camp Moria to Camp Kara Tepe. These are, among others, families, the elderly, pregnant women, people with health issues.

That’s where I was this afternoon. With my little car. In front of the Moria gates. With my vest on, and my badge around my neck. And my sweetest smile on my face. Because I was forewarned that it was not so easy, getting in. It turned out not te be really hard. After a short discussion, the gates opened.

Then they tried to put seven adults with luggage in my little Corsa. Uhm…. That seems like a challenge… In the end I left with two Syrian mothers and a bus load of young children. They did not speak any English. But, when driving off, they understood my ‘Bye bye Moria!’ just fine and they yelled it at the top of their lungs with me.
Another trip back to Moria. Waiting again. And no, seven adults still don’t fit in my car. After which I drove back to Kara Tepe with the Afghan mother and her sons. To receive her hug once I got there.

Thank you sweet lady. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do more for you. Take care. Be safe.”

Idomeni – First experiences

Coordinator Jetty on her experiences at Idomeni:

“The last days I visited two camps: EKO gas station and the much bigger Idomeni. The grim atmosphere has largely disappeared. The Sun is shining bright and most of the mud has completely vanished. As I look around the camp I see kids playing and women washing some clothes.

However, the conditions are still harsh. Dense crowds of people are everywhere and tents are closely stacked together. On top of that, people are waiting in long lines to get food and sanitary facilities are still scarce. As a result of the hot weather (today 36 degrees!) new problems arise. Tents are heating up, there are hardly any cool spots of shade, a lot of trash is scattered around and water points are scarce. The upcoming days we will find out where our help is most needed. But one thing is certain: there is a lot to do and we are eager to get started!

The EKO gas station and Idomeni camps are not official camps and Greek authorities are currently working on new camps in the region. We don’t know much about where the camps will end up, but we are certainly ready to assist there if possible.”

Photos: Lex van Iterson

Want to help us help? Only with your financial support we can act! Your donation literally makes the world a better place. Go to www.bootvluchteling.nl and donate. Send your donation to IBAN account number NL97 RBRB 0918 9326 37 f.o.a. Stichting Bootvluchteling – Boat Refugee Foundation.

Athene – Activities with refugees

Volunteer Iris shares her experiences from Athens:

“1.700 people in one hall, permanent noise, no privacy and only six showers for these people. The stench in which these men, women and children have to live is indescribable. Children that have to sleep in a little tent all the time, under the most dire circumstances. It hurts me to see that children have to stay here. No school, no clean clothes. Sleeping on a small blanket on the floor. It’s dirty hear, really dirty.

Every day around eleven the children storm our way. Finally: going outside, fresh air, relaxing a little. We colour with them, sing and dance with the girls, while soccer remains the boys’ favourite. It is important that we provide structure during these hours. The same rules apply to everyone. You sit down first, then you get a piece of paper. You get to take one crayon at a time and you always put it back with the cap back on. In addition to this we feel it is very important that they learn how to play together and to share with each other.

When we are done at the airport, we move to the harbour. The children greet us enthusiastically every day. Here the children are also our focus. Soccer, songs, jump ropes and pavement chalk. Seeing the kids laugh is so very valuable. It’s difficult to see the situation.”

Lesbos – Meeting with Diederik Samsom

Diederik Samsom, party leader of the Dutch political party PvdA, visited Lesbos this past weekend. He met with the co-ordinators of Boat Refugee Foundation. According to him, he came to see what the situation was like, in addition to seeing whether the system as it is now, can possibly result in violations of human rights.
Our aim for the meeting was to explain the situation on Lesbos to Samsom through personal stories. This based on all the experiences which the team of Boat Refugee Foundation has had on Lesbos since last summer. Samsom stressed that the legal routes to Europe should be opened and that no more lives should be risked. He indicated that legal routes to Europe were necessary.

Today the process of sending back refugees from Greece to Turkey has started.

The Boat Refugee Foundation co-ordinators indicated to Samsom that they have little confidence in the (rushed) deportation of the refugees. Many of them do not seem to fully grasp what a request for asylum is or are perhaps of the intention to do this in Germany or another country. According to UNHCR 1600 of the 2300 (figures of last Thursday, March 31, currently over 3000) residents of Moria have signed a declaration of intent to request asylum. This will take about two weeks, one week for the request, and one week for the possible appeal.

According to us, this is too short for a proper processing of the request and consequently we fear that the most vulnerable refugees will be the victims here. The Greek government has requested twenty times the current amount of personnel to process the asylum requests.
Boat Refugee Foundation will continue its work on Lesbos and is in close contact with both the refugees as well as the organisations involved.

Annerieke Berg, director of Boat Refugee Foundation: “Although the EU treaty has many troublesome aspects, we want to stay in order to give a voice to the refugees, who do not seem to have a voice in decisions regarding their lives and futures.”

Samos – A look behind the scenes

On Samos our volunteers distribute breakfast and lunch daily in the hotspot, where refugees gather after arrival and are being placed, get medical care and food. The volunteers prepare the meals and see to a fair distribution.

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