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No Shelter, No Protection: Afghanistani Asylum Seekers Struggle to Survive in Greece

I urgently present this plea of hope for these refugees in Athens. All human rights organizations, please pay close attention to this crisis!
Basir Ahang
Friday 30 December 2011

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Click here for Italian version of this story.

Forced to flee from the Afghan war zone, the refugees patiently wait. Despite hunger, lack of shelter, and unkindness, many of these refugees still have hope.

Dr. Younus Mohammadi, a spokesman for the Afghanistani community in Athens says, “If the Afghanistani asylum seekers do not get help, we will definitely face a human catastrophe here.” It is strongly felt the Afghanistani refugees need the UN police or police protection from some partial European group. The Greek government is unable to handle this deluge of refugees.

Dr. Mohammadi works as a medical physician. He states that according to Greece Interior Affairs, during the past six months, 60 Afghanistani refugees entered Greece every day! There were already hundreds of undocumented refugees in the country who did not have the financial means to settle anywhere, period.

Based on statistics by GCR (Greece Immigration Administration), 30,000 Afghanistani refugees have entered Greece since last year. The Greek government has only granted official refugee status to 52 of them.
The current economic crisis in this country has already disabled the Greek government. Adding the thousand fold refugees issues only compounds their budgetary problems. There clearly is an immediate need for international help with this crisis.

Most Afghanistani asylum seekers do not register their names at the police department because they do not want to settle in Greece. With no registration, they are unable to be covered by healthcare services.
“Refugee children are confronting an extreme situation here. They do not have access to medical care and they are malnourished as well. Many children confined to Victoria Park suffered severe sunburn and dehydration during summer. Soon, winter will be upon us. Only 58 families have registered and received a health card. Out of a thousand.”

Dr. Mohammadi urges the refugees to get documented, but he understands their frustrations.

You must be asking yourself the same questions as I did. Exactly how do you explain to homeless, hungry people the need to fill out registration paperwork for police who can’t help when you need them? Where there is hunger, there is stealing. Where there is desperation, there is frustration, anger and potentially violence. Why bog down a country’s overwhelmed and understaffed police department by asking them to register refugees when it is the United Nations mandate to place such displaced persons?

So far, twelve refugee children between ages 9 and 13 were found wandering the dark streets of the city alone. They were malnourished and emotionally impaired. These children are now protected by an association in Athens called “Child Smile”. It is critical these refugee children are protected and nurtured for the sake of their future. If their parents can not do it, someone must step up and see to it the children are cared for.

I urgently present this plea of hope for these refugees in Athens. All human rights organizations, please pay close attention to this crisis! Yes, the economic crisis hitting Greece is a serious problem, but the violation of human rights for these refugees certainly deserves attention from the international community.

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