Camp Anagnostopoulou in Diavata: This is the refugee camp that Mr Mouzalas had in mind

This is the article published recently, that is a very realistic reflection on the conditions in the Diavata Anagnostopoulou camp in North Greece, before, and now, after all the efforts done by ASB and all the improvements made (both inside the camp and outside, for the most vulnerable families).
We are happy to be able to help when help was needed the most, and we continue with the same passion and commitment.
Special thank you to our donors, European Commission Humanitarian Aid and German Federal Foreign Office, for understanding the conditions and supporting us in our efforts from the beginning. And special thank you to Greek Government for the support, but also to the other agencies that are present in the camp everyday.

“We confronted fear and not such great reactions, but at the end the structure that came as a result set up the standards for solving the refugee crisis”, said Mr Mouzalas, Minister for Immigration Policy, during the visit to the former military and nor refugee camp, Diavata Anagnostopoulou.

Surprised by such a categorization, with a reasonable suspicion, we have visited the beneficiaries of the camp in order to find out if there really isn’t any “catch” in this story. We asked the refugees about their stay there, cold, food and their security. We have heard many plans for the future of the camp, but this report at the end has a surprisingly realistic tone, with no promises for utopian paradise.

It’s a fact, the beginning was difficult for all the local communities that had to face the results of the official misinformation, or that have to work in the absence of any information at all. Pray of populism and non-existent exaggeration of all those in their interest to exaggerate and populists, honoring as usual their petty political games. Or simply responding with egoism to absolutely selfish beliefs as atrocities were also on the side of those who call themselves rescuers and helpers aid in the refugee drama solution.

Luckily, or unfortunately, the help did not come, not by hand neither other way. The power of time, temperament of the certain structures on power, getting the populists or “assistants” away from the scene and recognizable contribution of the volunteers, all together helped show the real face of the society on the local level, making structures for the best possible conditions, in the given timeframe.

The results show what is the reality and what is really happening in Anagnostopoulou camp.

At the beginning, the camp hosted more than 2.500 refugees. The number was not stable, it was constant subject of changes, due to moving refugees from Idomeni camp. From the first moment of placing the refugees there, the organized action of government and the Army, as well as the equally well organized efforts of volunteers did not allow the creation of the marginal unpleasant situation. In many cases, even the economy of the local communities was stimulated. There are several companies who noticed that their turnover was stimulated by the everyday purchase done by refugees.

But not everything is pink in the camp. The refugees are divided into tribes with different cultural characteristics and these partner relationships between them resulted in often tension and wild incidents. It was very difficult when the fire broke out in the improvised refugee kitchen during cooking, and dozens of tents got burned to the ground. For some time also, there were groups that would sneak in the camp, giving false promises to the refugees and that was complicating the plan for systematic organized work of the other players.

Today, the number of refugees in the camp is 370, mainly Syrian, with smaller groups of Afghans, Iraqis and Pakistanis. The largest number still are minors. The system is organized and there are people representing them and working with them. They do cause occasional problems within the camp, but all these are not being prolonged. Refugees use the best words to describe the hospitality of the people in the camp, for the Doctors of the World, soldiers, but also for all the volunteers. It is important to say that they are provided with three meals per day at fixed times. Meals are prepared daily, even for people with needs for different diet due to certain health problems.

The sample predicts that with this organization the camp would be able to provide the “standard” for the good accommodation for all the refugees during the winter. In that manner, there were planned efforts and all the vulnerable groups were taken out of the camp, to the hotel where they will spend the rest of the winter. This includes pregnant women, very small children and people with serious health problems.

During the visit to the camp, we didn’t witness any scene. All the refugees now live in the containers heated by A/C. The devices work without any problem and it seem that guests are content with it. To our question if the temperature inside the containers is satisfying, they responded positively.