Trigger Warning: Suicide, Self-Harm
Migration to Europe is no easy trip, with many making the dangerous journey by sea. Migrants from the Middle East and African countries come to Europe seeking a better life and many do not make it. Every country has its own set of laws to deal with immigration and unfortunately, these laws are strict. Many immigrants are deported, many are not being allowed to enter Europe and many are forced to stay in refugee camps. England and Greece are two countries that do not place refugees in safe conditions.
England’s Napier Barracks
The English government places refugees in one of their detention centers, the Napier Barracks. The Barracks have no hot water or electricity, the place is overcrowded, there is a potential fire risk, etc.
Six asylum seekers sued Napier Barracks for being unsafe and for causing a Covid-19 outbreak. More than 200 people caught Covid in the Barracks. The judge stated, “I do not accept that the accommodation there ensured a standard of living which was adequate for the health of the claimants.” In other words, the Barracks do not provide safe living conditions for immigrants and their health. Human Rights Group Liberty, campaigners, Refugee Action and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants are demanding Napier Barracks get closed down.
The Barracks are unsafe for anyone to live and they violate human rights. There were reports of seven people who tried to commit suicide as well as seven incidents of self-harm. All of this is concerning because immigrants’ rights are being violated and being placed in the barracks is harming their mental health. Moreover, health experts had expressed their concerns about using Napier Barracks during the pandemic however more asylum seekers were being sent to the site. It was not possible to implement Covid-19 measures in the barracks since so many asylum seekers were being sent there.
Refugees in Greek camps
In Athens, Greece, many refugee camps have been holding high numbers refugees for years due to an agreement with the European Union. For many refugees, this is the fist place they encounter before crossing into Europe if they are allowed to cross. Living in a camp is not where many refugees imagined they would be. They especially did not imagine the Greek government would build solid grey walls in the camps. The walls will be built in the Ritsona refugee camp and they will be 10 feet high. That’s not all. The Greek government plans to build more gray walls in 24 more camps. The reason for this is because the Greek government says it is for the safety of refugees. Equally important, the walls will cost 28.4 million euros or $34.8 million dollars, for which the European Commission will pay.
Furthermore, Athens plans to add surveillance in 39 camps in the mainland and the Greek Islands. Surveillance includes drones, security cameras, X-ray machines, magnetic gates and a curfew to close the camp. The European Internal Security Fund will pay for 75% of the new surveillance methods. The residents in the camps are upset by the new surveillance methods, as they should be. They are refugees and should not be forced to live like prisoners. If anything, the money should be used to help refugees. Parwana, a young refugee living in the Greek camps, started a petition to stop the walls from being built. The petition needs 5,000 signatures and so far, they have more than 3,000 so they are getting close to reaching their goal.
Choose Love is an organization that provides refugees across the world access to important necessities like food and legal aid. Some places include European coutries, the US-Mexico border and the Middle East. They also amplify refugees’ voices and stories in order to show that they are human beings. Choose Love has their own shop where you can purchase items for refugees so refugees can have access to hot meals, blankets, medical care, etc. For example, let’s say I purchase a hot meal on the Choose Love shop. Choose Love will give that hot meal to refugees living in camps. Basically, I would be helping refugees access their next meal. There are many other products that you can purchase at their shop to help refugees have access to daily necessities. Choose Love has a US shop and a UK shop so you can shop according to your location.