Migration

For releases describing work with people who have left their homes for reasons of economic or lethal violence.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 3 January 2017 Lesvos

Prayers for Peacemakers, 3 January 2017   Lesvos

Pray for refugees automatically rejected during the asylum process because of where they came from, or because of their ethnicity.

Many countries that western nations categorize as "safe" are really quite volatile, especially for specific ethnicities within those countries. This includes many countries in Western Africa and the subcontinent of Asia. The refugees from those locations often receive denials based on racial profiling, because they are only "economic migrants" or their countries fall into this "safe" category.  One man who has worked quite closely with the Christian Peacemaker Team on Lesvos is currently in prison facing deportation because of his ethnicity.

 Hesam Shaeri Hesari, one of the hunger strikers on Lesvos, scheduled for imminent deportation. 
Image by Arash Hampay

LESVOS REFLECTION: Alexander's Great Lie

Occasionally when I fly to Lesbos, I travel through Thessaloniki.  Thessaloniki International Airport is situated outside of town with not much to see other than the somewhat barren landscape. One time, as I wandered around the small terminal in search of an outlet to revitalize my dying phone, I came across what might be called a shrine to Alexander the Great and the text of an oath he made to his armies and commanders after his conquest into Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the rest of the known world of his day.



CPT MEDITERRANEAN/LESVOS: Open The Islands – no more dead from cold! -- Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action

CPTnet
21 October 2017 
CPT MEDITERRANEAN/LESVOS: Open The Islands – no more dead from cold!

Solidarity groups and organisations call for urgent action as winter is coming for refugees in Greece

Over 100 solidarity groups and organisations -- including Christian Peacemaker Teams project on Lesvos -- are calling for urgent action from the Greek local and national authorities to prevent more refugees from dying in the cold as winter sets in once again. They expect more groups and organisations to join them over the next days and weeks.

Several places woke up on Thursday 12 October to find their neighbourhoods plastered with the emblematic picture of Moria camp on Lesvos, covered in snow last winter, while the collective has also launched a campaign on social media with the hashtag #opentheislands.

Six people who were seeking refuge and protection in Europe died in Moria last winter, their deaths linked to inhumane winter living conditions. Their families are still waiting for answers from the authorities as to how and why their relatives died, and for those who are responsible to be held accountable. Only last Sunday 8 October, a five-year-old Syrian girl died in Moria. The cause of death is yet unknown.

The collective of solidarity groups and organisations, expresses their shock and outrage at the current situation in the islands as winter sets in. Approximately 5000 people currently live in Moria camp, which has a capacity of around 2000. This includes the seriously ill, the disabled, pregnant women, many children including unaccompanied minors, and survivors of torture and other trauma. Many now live in woefully inadequate summer tents and have to sleep on the floor on thin sleeping mats or blankets.

A refugee forced to stay in Moria camp reports about the conditions:

“Living in Moria makes us all sick. In the morning you wake up in a cramped tent or container between other people. It smells disgustingly and I hate that I cannot wash myself properly. In winter it is freezing. Everything is soaked. When you wake up you cannot move your limbs. And you’re covered in ashes. Last winter we burned paper and plastic to stay warm. It is as if we were not human beings.”

 

Poster: No more deaths from cold

Prayers for Peacemakers, 20 July 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 20 July 2017

Pray for freedom and protection for three young men at risk of deportation from Lesbos, Greece, who have been on a hunger strike for over three weeks.

Today, we would like to carry in our prayers Amir Hampay from Iran and Hussein Kozhin and Aresh Bahroz from Iraq who Greek police has held in detention for nearly three months while preparing to deport them from Lesbos. Amir as a political freedom activist faces decades of imprisonment, torture and, very likely, an execution by hanging, if returned to Iran. 23 days ago the three friends began a hunger strike. They ask for political protection and reversal of the deportation order. Their health condition is deteriorating.

In act of solidarity and love, Amir's brother Arash Hampay has also begun a hunger strike in a public square of Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos. Today marks the 22nd day of his hunger strike. Arash asks for a release of his brother and friends.

CPT Mediterranean team on Lesbos accompanies Arash. Other people, including the CPT team on Lesbos, are also joining in solidarity with Amir, Hussein and Aresh by doing a symbolic 24-hours-long fast.

Please consider joining as well.

Arash and a woman holding pictures and a solidarity banner

GREECE: Moria, plea for freedom and improved living conditions for refugees detained in a camp on Lesbos

CPTnet

20 June 2017

GREECE: Moria, plea for freedom and improved living conditions for refugees detained in a camp on Lesbos.

by: Aaron Kaufmann, 

CPT Europe regional project coordinator 

I do not know how the town of Moria got its name. Perhaps it has a specific meaning in Greek, a language in which I lack any skill. Perhaps it was the name of its founder. Whatever the case may be, when I hear it, my mind is instantly drawn to thoughts of the fallen Dwarven stronghold of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It is probably not fair to compare Moria, Lesbos to Tolkien’s Moria, a deserted underground cavern void of hope that has become the mass grave of an entire city — especially since I have never been invited by a wizard or dwarf to visit it. There is, however, near the Greek town a camp sharing its name, and the comparison between these two tragic places is painfully apt.

I have never been inside the camp of Moria either, but I have seen it from the outside. Fences hold the asylum seekers inside. Moria is not officially a camp — it is a “reception center” for refugees, who are “received” and locked straight away. They spend 25 days locked inside. Their first 25 days in the “enlightened and free West” are spent behind walls topped with razor wire. They are forced to sleep in rows on the ground. They may perhaps be given a blanket, if they are lucky. And they are expected to refrain from complaining. Sometimes there is running water, sometimes not. This place, if anywhere, is a trap and a tomb. It is a grave for hope. It is where humans, like the dwarves of Tolkien’s stories, wait around to expire, their dreams and aspirations all but dead. One man told me, “I would rather have died from a bomb in my own country than die like this in a ‘free’ country.”

Crown close to the fence.

GREECE: Arc of voices. The work of resistance of CPT partners on Lesvos.

CPTnet

23 May 2017

GREECE: Arc of voices. The work of resistance of CPT partners on Lesvos.

by Rûnbîr Serkepkanî

Images of boats, of people with arms stretched out for water, of children getting barbecued by the midday sun at the port, hunger strikes and many other unpleasant things—these are the images which I associate with Mytilene, and for a very good reason. Nearly 1,000,000 people have passed through this island in the last three years. As a part of Christian Peacemaker Teams on the island, I have witnessed all of that and more. For me, these tragedies are not merely some news story happening in a far away country, but something deeply personal. When someone gets deported from this island to a future of insecurity, potentially facing incarceration and death, it is personal for me. If I have not actually met that person, I certainly know someone who is a friend of theirs.

We who are bearing witness to what is happening now know who is responsible. It is the vampiric tendencies of capitalism, the weapons industry and the profit-worshiping corporations. It is the sultans, emirs, presidents and lords of war with their armies. Our main partner Lesvos Solidarity was founded by local mothers from Mytilene as Village of all Together several years ago. Lesvos Solidarity has been the main obstacle standing in the way of the total exploitation of refugees and the oppression against them. 

The powers-that-be have built an infrastructure of separation and subjugation. At the same time Lesvos Solidarity has been working in the opposite direction. They occupy an abandoned summer camp and have renovated it step by step, transforming it into a shelter for refugees. Here the local people of Mitylene host the refugees and help them recover from the bombs that fell on them, the boats that capsized under them, the memories of their comrades who became martyrs for the freedom of movement.

 World without Borders

Prayers for Peacemakers. 1 February 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 1 February 2017

In these dark times when hatred and racism are on the rise around the world, we invite you to build bridges to bring us closer to each other and to overthrow the walls that divide us by our faith, our race, our gender, and our migration status.

Let us pray that each of us can overcome the walls that separate us. Let us embrace our sisters and brothers of Muslim, Yezidi and other diverse identities, faiths and origin. Let us welcome all those who have had to leave their homes due to war. Let us pray for the hearts and minds of those who insist on dividing us to open wide.

Muslim and jew families

Photo Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Chicago Tribune

IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.

by Rezhiar Fakhir

No doubt reading the news nowadays makes you angry with the claims that far right leaders are making specifically Donald Trump. I have been confused, troubled and shocked hearing that the President of the United States has banned people from the Muslim world entering to the US. His allegation that it is to make the US safer by banning innocent people from the Middle East has puzzled me, it is as though he lives in a different world. What is even more appalling is that many people applaud him for what he is doing. He did not just ban people but he also stated that he is only going to accept Christians as they have been most prosecuted by Daesh (ISIS) in the Middle East. Well Mr. President, you are wrong. Everyone has suffered equally from ISIS regardless whether they were Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, non-believers or any other beliefs that did not match with Daesh’s ideology. I have reflected on the statements that he has made and I think it is important that people have a real picture of what is happening here, not what Trump is trying to feed to people.

However, this is not by any means to dismiss anyone or depict who has suffered most or who has suffered least from the wars that exists in the Middle East and specifically war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. I have had the benefit of meeting people from different corners of this region and worldwide due to the work that I am doing. Last summer we had a very diverse delegation coming to my region to learn about what was happening here. We visited one of the monasteries in the city of Sulaimani where the people working there have lived in Syria and fled to this city after the war started. 

Muslims praying at Dallas Airport

Photo credit: REUTERS/Laura Buckman.

MEDITERRANEAN: Saint Paul and Saint Luke on Lesvos--a new light on the refugee crisis from a Christian perspective.

 

In 56 A.D., Luke the Evangelist, the Apostle Paul and their companions stopped on Lesvos briefly on the return trip of Paul’s third missionary journey (Acts 20:14), having sailed from Assos (about 50 km away). From Mytilini they continued towards Chios (Acts 20:15).

In 2016, Luke and Paul would have been picked up by coastguard ships and denied entry. Paul was a Turk and Luke a Palestinian. European governments now associate both of these nationalities with terrorism.

MEDITERRANEAN: Thoughts on Self-Organizing; What Happens when the Oatmeal Boils Over?

 

One day I arrived early enough at the camp to find and talk with the two Ethiopian women who rise at 4:30 am every morning to bake bread for their fellow refugees. They told me they took on the task about three months ago. They saw a need, and they just started baking.

Before then, they said there was nothing available in the camp like the freshly baked flatbreads they now make. After baking the bread, they also bag small rounds of risen dough, and put those in the refrigerator to be given out later in the morning in the daily food distribution. Some families prefer to make their own bread in the cabins and tents where they stay at the camp. 

There are many different cultures living together at the camp, so this bread is not exactly like what they get at home,  but for most, what the women are producing is more common to their foodways than European-style bread.

Because handmade flatbread and dough is now available and appreciated by the refugees, I say to the women, “You two must be very important here!” They both give a good laugh, and with what I know to be both a truth and an irony replied, “Yes. V.I.P’s. Very Important People.”