From file: A woman and a man in a wheelchair sit outside a tent at Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos island |  Photo: EPA/VANGELIS PAPANTONIS
From file: A woman and a man in a wheelchair sit outside a tent at Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos island | Photo: EPA/VANGELIS PAPANTONIS

In the midst of the ongoing pandemic and harsh winter weather that has hit Greece over the past few days, residents of the island of Lesbos -- where over 7,500 asylum seekers are hosted -- have made an impassioned plea to help as many people as they can.

In the wake of the "Medea" cold front that hit Greece recently, photos and videos circulated by asylum seekers staying at the controversial Kara Tepe "tent city" camp on Lesbos showed large areas of the camp buried in snow.

The tents at Kara Tepe, many of them set up by the sea, do not have a floor, with people sleeping on the ground. What is more, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, 40% of the population at Kara Tepe are children.

A letter by The Citizens of Lesvos group

The Citizens of Lesvos community group is calling on locals to open up their homes to give shelter to the camp residents. Meanwhile they denounce the Greek government's hardline stance on handling the ongoing migrant crisis in the country.

An open letter released by the group was read out in the Greek Parliament last Friday by Giannis Varoufakis, the former SYRIZA finance minister and current leader of one of the opposition political parties MERA25.

The letter stated: "There are citizens here who want to help their fellow human beings and open their own homes. Answer them if they can do it and if not, why. Because they have to sleep today knowing that children could sleep peacefully in a heated space, that they could put the children to bed in the warmth of a home instead of having them trembling from the cold in a terrible makeshift tent, in the mud."

"We will not talk about the hundreds of municipal and state buildings that are closed and that could be used so that these people do not suffer. We will not talk about the hundreds of church premises that are locked and left rotting. These places are not even open for Greeks who are also suffering… And we will not discuss the containers at Kara Tepe, which have been sealed instead of holding families in the warmth, and we won't mention the PIKPA camp which was recently closed down by force -- a place that hosted the vulnerable."

 

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