Moria and its memories

By Mohammad Nazir Momand (research) and Wolfgang Sannwald (text)

Many people from Afghanistan, who live in the district of Tübingen, watch the news about the Greek refugee camp Moria vigilantly. During the night from September 9th to 10th, the camp almost burned down completely due to arson. The camp is situated on the Greek island of Lesbos.

On his way to mainland Europe, tünews INTERNATIONAL editorial staff member Mohammad Nazir Momand came through this camp himself in 2015. He has a network of more than 3000 contacts through social media and is closely connected with other migrants from Afghanistan. Most of them came through Moria on Lesbos to Europe as well and they have memories of it. Everyone who came through there, connects Lesbos and Moria with emotional and life threating experiences. The rubber boats belonging to the traffickers would usually land on the beach of Ayvacik in the province of Canakkale. This is in Turkey and the western end of Asia; Lesbos is within eyeshot. Nevertheless, the crossing took one and a half hours, as Mohammad remembers it. And it was life threatening. Out of five boats that started on the Turkish beach, only two arrived on the island: “There are many big ships, who make tall waves. They bring the rubber boats, where 45 people are crowded together, to overturn.” The editorial staff member talked with a friend who currently lives on Lesbos via phone. Today, it is a lot worse there than it was in 2015. In the camp, which was built for 3000 people, around 22,000 lived there at times between 2018 and 2020. Currently, around 15,000 people were crammed together. And they cannot move on, they did “not want to eat, didn’t want money, only freedom.” Yet, one of the reasons why many people are stuck there is their lack of money.

To this day, people can buy their onward journey from traffickers. However, this is around three times as expensive today compared to what he paid. Back then, he paid 4500 dollars, with a guaranteed passage to Europe. Today, the borders are much denser, says Mohammad: “The money is doing something.”

His way went on with an official passenger ship to Athens. There, he prepared for the Viktoria Square, which by now is commonly known as the “Afghan Park”. It is the center for further trafficking. As he paid for it, he traveled through the Balkan States and Hungary without registration. He first had his fingerprints taken in Passau. The word Moria brings this and similar memories about fleeing, deathly risks and criminal traffickers to the minds of many.

Mohammad tells of a big willingness between his compatriots to help those stranded on Lesbos. Through a relief agency, they send around 1000 masks to Greek. Recently over 130 cases of the corona-virus were discovered in the overcrowded camp. However, more has to be done. His friend in Moria reported that refugees were being transferred to a new camp. But things there were much worse than before, as there are no trees and the land is barren. However, according to another friend, the 100 to 150 people who are deported to Turkey every day, have it worse. The friend told him about the time he was brutally beaten. And the police took away things from him and others: their purses, phones, watches “and everything”. They were not allowed to have anything that would finance them a new crossing of the ocean.

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Foto: Ahmad Sear Ahmadi

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