25.000 is a number. Tjark is a human being.
This is the translation of an interview, held by Mission Lifeline. The original interview is published on there website https://mission-lifeline.de/25-000-sind-eine-zahl-tjark-ist-ein-mensch/
On March 16th, Mission Lifeline spoke to Tjark in Camp Moria. He is 16 years old and fled from Afghanistan, passing through Iran and Turkey to Greece. Tjark was severly beaten by the police in Turkey then arrested and robbed. They stole his phone and burned his clothes. He had to go back to Teheran, Iran to earn money for a second attempt to flee. After two failed attempts to cross the Aegean Sea he succeeded and made it to Greece, where he has been staying in Camp Moria for over 6 months now. On his journey he was raped twice.
After the horrific developments of the last weeks he, like many others, does not have anything to in the camp. The school has been closed and there is a continual rise in violence.
His fate is just one of many and his story is far from an individual case. Because of his traumatic journey and the constant rise of violence, his hope is decreasing from day to day.
We, as Europeans, must act now to free the children and their care givers, at least.
How long have you been living in Camp Moria?
I have been in Moria for 6 months and 10 days now.
Where are your parents?
Thats why I am here. The Taliban were involved in fights with the afghan army and lost 1800 fighters. They came to our village and said, that I had to come with them to fight, because i am young. That‘s why I am here. Arriving in Iran I heard that the Taliban had attacked our village. I don‘t know where my family is now. There is no internet in our village, so I can‘t reach them. I don‘t know whether they are alive or not.
How is life here in Moria?
In 2019 life was a little bit better. The police did not hit minors back in 2019, but now they do. They don‘t think about whether you are a minor or not. One night I asked a police officer if he could give me some food. He said „Yeah of course, come in.“ As I entered, I got beaten by two police officers. I asked them why and they said „fuck off“.
Did they beat you with their clubs?
No, with their fists.
Did they hurt you bad?
Physically they didn‘t hurt me so bad. But they hurt me emotionally. I told them „I am alone.“ I was forced to come here from Afghanistan and now they also don‘t want me here. What am I supposed to do? It is really hard.
How is your everyday life? In what kind of circumstances are you living in?
I live in the so called „section“¹ . In the past, it was a little bit better there. We went to school and played soccer. But since Greek fascists want to beat up refugees, we can‘t go to school or play soccer anymore. Now we are supposed to stay in a room all day. People are losing their minds. They ask „What are we supposed to do?“, they cry and drink alcohol. I also dont know what I am supposed to do.
How can you survive here? Where do you get food from?
They bring food to the camp. Once the fascists blocked the way for the food delivery, but now it is coming again. They only gave us this much honey today. ( He shows „this much honey“ with the first two segments of his finger)
One loaf of bread and a little bit of honey.
And that‘s it for the day?²
No this is just for the breakfast, but it is not enough. We also receive a little cake and a bit of juice. They give us sausages from pigs and mush them into the rice. We are not going to eat this. ³
Do you receive money from somewhere to support yourself?
They aren‘t giving us anything. Not only are we not receiving any financial support, but they don‘t even wash our clothes. If we ask them about this, we receive a handful of washing powder to wash all of our underwear, clothes, shoes and socks.
Are there possibilities to shower?
Yes there are. The showers are quite alright.
Because they are in the „section“?
Yes, but the people from the outside always want to wash (their clothes and themselves) in our place, because there is a little bit of warm water.
How many people are living in one room?
It is a small room. There are 20qm for 20 people. They are fighting all night long. If someone is coming and saying, that his friend also wants to stay there and someone else is saying „No your friend can‘t stay here.“ for example.
There are rooms with 36 people.
In the same size?
Yes in the same size. They only have two toilets and two showers.
Is there much violence?
It is okay in the „section“ ?
Yes it is a little bit better inside. But for example one time, a person from room 1 got sick and had severe fever, headaches and a sore throat. Basically the same, as it would be the case with corona. I went to the police and said „You have to come help us. My friend is very sick and it might be corona.“ The police officers wanted to beat me and told me „Why are you saying that? Dont joke about that!“ I said „I am not joking, please come and look after my friend. He is really sick.“ He replied „If you are joking I am not going to come.“ And he didn‘t. The police aren‘t treating us very good. They wouldn‘t beat us out in the open street, but instead take us to the police station, where they can beat us.
Besides the police violence, is there any violence between grown up refugees against minors?
Yes. My roommate Amar bought a phone for 50 euros. They steal these kind of things and just sell them in the camp. After he bought it and took it, someone else said „This is not your phone, you stole it!“ Five men and a woman, holding a big knife came in the area that is exclusively for minors saying „Give us back the phone or we will beat and kill you!“ The police didn‘t help us. If we say something, they only tell us to fuck off. Everything is really bad. We have nothing to eat und nothing to do. What are we supposed to do?
Do you have anything to say to the European Union and the people in Europe?
The people here always tell the European Union „You have to do this and this and the other thing.“, but they wont do anything, so what am I supposed to say? Maybe one thing – we were forced to come. If we would have had a good life in Afghanistan, why should we come here. Thats it.
So you have got no hope whatsoever?
My Uncle is in Finland. I want to go there. This is my hope. Between the 22.000 people of Moria I have got no one but the few room mates that are my friends. I have got no one to go to or to talk to. There is nothing to do here. We are supposded to sit around and watch videos. My only hope is to see my uncle.
Was there a moment during the last months of fascist and racist attacks that made you afraid? For example were you ever afraid to go to the supermarket?
I wanted to go to Mytilini with Amar, because I have got a lawyer for family reunification there. My lawyer told me to come there, because he had something he wanted to talk about. We were three people on our way when a fascist, driving a car, saw us and tried to run us over. We were very afraid and went back so i didn‘t see my lawyer.
Did you attend „One Happy Family“, the school that was burned down?⁴
You guys know Elena for sure. She worked there. When I had an infection on my foot, I went there and they gave me medical treatment. Here in the camp the only thing you‘ĺl hear is „Drink water!“. We have only 7 doctors for 11.000 people.
Tjark’s journey will thankfully come to a happy ending; after 7 months he can leave to his relatives in Finland.
Update: Tjark is not allowed to leave the country until the authorities and the EASO open the borders. If they wanted to, they could do it. It is time to act!
¹ Section is the internal part of the actual camp. Following the Section there is another part with more stable container housings. Both parts are seperated by barbed wire fences that are massively perforated. After this there is, seperated by another barbed wire fence, is the area of the so called „jungle“, wich is the improvisedpart of the camp.
² The chaperone of the goup of unaccompanied minors which Tjark belongs to, Elena, said in another interview that the teenagers get 800 calories per day. https://www.blick.ch/news/ausland/eu-zofft-ueber-1000-unbegleitete-minde...
Boys between the ages of 15-18 need 3100 calories per day according to the Research Institute for Child Nutrition of Dortmund www.labbe.de
³ We assume that Tjark is muslim, wich is why he does not eat meat.
⁴ „One Happy Family“ was a school project that also included medical facilities.