Inside a Greek detention centre

Submitted by Matthew on 1 June, 2016 - 10:50

Thousands of refugees are now trapped in Greece. Recently the Greek government broke up the makeshift camp of 12,000 people at Idomeni on the Macedonian border, forcibly moving people to warehouses in Thessaloniki. Many families have been split up, people are missing. Solidarity spoke to Dashty Jamal, Secretary of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, who recently visited a camp on the island of Samos in search of missing Kurdish refugees.


I have been looking for information about 70 missing Kurdish refugees. In May I went to the camp in Samos (an island close to Turkey). I had to get police permission to go inside the camp and talk to people. I had pictures of 15 of the missing Kurds to show to people.

The Samos camp is in the mountains. It is a detention centre in fact, and holds around 1500 people. The majority of people are Syrians but there are around 500 Iraqi Kurds. I saw many upsetting things. There were children there who had been injured by an ISIS operation, but people cannot get to the hospital if they are injured or unwell. And Médicins Sans Frontières only come into the camp on two days a week. Many people are desperate. They have no hope. They feel that the deal with Turkey (for Greece to deport recent refugees to camps there) is a matter of then being “sold on”. And they have had no information about what will happen to them in Turkey. They do not trust the Turkish government.

I saw a father with his family crying out that he would rather they were dead. People have to sign a piece paper every time they receive food. Conditions are inhuman. The food is basic — bread, pasta — and the same everyday. People are not allowed visitors. Many people have been split up from their families and they do not know what has happened to them. I went to a police station and to a hospital in search of the missing Kurdish people. At the hospital I was shown bodies in two fridges. These were not the people I was looking for. Refugees who do not make the crossings from Turkey are buried after 40 days (or earlier if the condition of the bodies necessitates it) if they are not identified. So my task is very urgent.

• IFIR are asking for donations to help them in the work of tracking Kurdish refugees. Account name: International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR). Account number: 21449591. Sort code: 40-04-07. For more information contact: 07856032991