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22 mars 2011 2 22 /03 /mars /2011 12:53

My colleagues go through Athens on their way to Patras. So we meet and take stock on what we've seen each other. Here are a few words about their journey and in Thrace near the Greek-Turkish border.

 

A Orestiada, city close to the main crossing point of the exiles and the seat of the Frontex mission on the border (Frontex is the European agency for border control), very strong military and police presence. They are greeted by a student group that tries to raise the debate on immigration issues and border closures, and recently organized a festival of music around that theme.

 

Nea Vyssa is the first village where the exiles arrived when crossing the border where a strip of land in Turkey is located on the west bank of the river Evros, that is to say where we can go on dry ground (on the rest of the border, the river that separates the two countries, and his crossing is quite dangerous, exiles drown each year). Much of the inhabitants of Nea Vyssa went to work in Germany in the 50s and 60s, but nobody there seems to reconcile their migratory experience and that of people who daily cross the border.

 

At about 80 miles away, in the middle of nowhere, there is a detention camp. They were able to communicate with inmates through the bars and see a few of the conditions outside. Exiles are a hundred per room, sleeping on cots or the floor. There is only one meal a day, no hot water and very poor hygiene. Several detainees reported theft of money and personal belongings by the police of the camp. Once released, exiles must pay 65 euros to be taken by bus to Athens, and those who have no money are left in the countryside. They stand their fingerprints have been taken, and with a document that gives them a month to leave the country - a document which paradoxically provides a legal basis to stay for a month, allows them to take public transport safely and so to reach Athens.

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