‘Life is like the wind. It comes, goes and is not loyal just like the wind. It blows away and before you realize it, it passes you by’, say two Iranian poets to me while we are standing outside in the medical area, all being sniveling. These friendly men are already five months in the hotspot on Samos. Five months, because they had to flee their country because of the words they wrote with their pencils.
I think about last week’s news. ‘We will come and get them then!’ has been shouted in Brussels, now that the Dutch demonstration initiative has spread to other countries. The Netherlands have promised to locate 3797 refugees before the end of 2017 as a result of the growing flow of migrants that arrive in the borderlands of Europe. Since February 2016 the first hotspots in Europe have been opened. A hotspot is an official refugee camp located on the borders of Europe. In hotspots refugees are being identified, registered and – before the EU-Turkey deal has been made – they relocated them over Europe. Hotspot could have made it easy for countries like the Netherlands to find those 3797 refugees that we have promised location. However, apparently we do have to come and get them.
There was a time – before the EU-Turkey deal has been made on the 18th of March 2016 – that the hotspot on Samos functioned as a transit camp where most people, depending on the reasons why they fled to Europe, stayed only several days whereupon which they could travel to other places. The EU-Turkey deal has been brought to life to discourage the flow of migrants coming to Europe. Yes, the fifth rapport of the European Commission does state that less refugees come to Greece and that less people drown at sea. However, the number of people arriving to Greece succeeds the number of people that are send back to Turkey. For those in Greece their lives are being paused. After the deal has been made, many things changed in the hotspots. Refugees that arrive to the hotspot on Samos and that do not have any family members in Europe for reunification, are currently stuck in the hotspot. In the best case they can apply for asylum in Greece.
After the deal the transit function of the camp on Samos and the relocation of refugees over Europe have been stopped. The original function of the hotspot is halted. As a result, many people are stuck on the island, sometimes for months already, in a camp that was originally planned to host people for several days – at most weeks. Their lives are being paused. Life is like the wind, we let it blow away for the people on Samos. Every day we hope for the people in Samos that the wind changes directions. We hope that there will be a wind of change that takes people to a new life, and a new place. A life where people can move forwards again. Because life is not loyal, like the wind, and before you know it, it passes you by. So yes, come and get them on Samos and take them with you on the wind to The Netherlands.
Text: Rozemijn Aalpoel