Michael Trammer

Freelance Journalist / Mediadesigner Picture & Sound
   
No Rest on Lesbos
Location: Hanover, Germany
Nationality: German
Biography: Freelance journalist based in Hanover and Munich | Prefers to work with different media (photo, video and text) and likes stories with an investigative element. Writes on social movements, social inequality, migration and group-focused enmity. |... MORE
Public Story
No Rest on Lesbos
Copyright Michael Trammer 2024
Updated Feb 2023
Over the past years, one of the focal points of migration in Europe is Lesvos. Beeing located just ten kilometers from the Turkish mainland, the island seems in reach. Refugees pass the narrow straight with rubber dinghies. Accidents happen and regularly people disappear or a found drowned after the attempt to reach European soil. Who reaches Lesvos is either illegally dropped off on the middle of the ocean by special forces or ends up in a camp. This camp has been moving and changing in the past years, but problems are just marginally met by authorities. Since several years the island is serving as a fear factor.

Until 2020 the Greek government attempted to ignore the fact, that more and more people were arriving and needed to be redistributed. Many came from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan or Syria. In February 2020 the camp Moria had become Europe's largest refugee camp, housing approximately 25.000 people, leading to internal fights, insecurity and food shortage. The inhabitants of the wild camp, around the fenced off official part, were not allowed to leave, as under the EU-Turkey deal the Greek government wanted to process their pleads for asylum on the island to then deport those without a justification to be in Europe. In the last years few official deportations have taken place. In 2020 just few people were moved to the mainland. The shortages lead to the inhabitants of Moria cutting down olive trees to heat their huts. The trees, subsidized by the European Union, became a symbol and lead to a shift in the mood of the local population.

Many had been in solidarity with the refugees stranded on their island. As the Greek government announced plans to set up a new closed camp, expropriate land for this and at the same time  pictures of cut-off olive trees were circling social networks, the mood shifted. As the central government sent police to ensure the beginning of the construction work of the new hotspot the local population had enough. The island was rocked by several days of heavy riots, leaving numerous people injured. Only as the local leaders told the police commanders, they could not hold back the crowd and if they would not withdraw, the villagers would pick up their guns, they retreated. For weeks fascist mobs set up checkpoints across the island and attacked refugees, volunteers and journalists. In March 2020 a group even tried to hinder refugees from disembarking a rubber dinghy at the port of Thermi.

Then in September 2020 Moria burnt down. The Greek government blames several refugees to have set the place on fire. Its residents were moved to an old shooting range, which has become the new temporary camp, until the Greek government has finished the construction work on the new closed facility. The residents report about similar problems to the camp of Moria. In February 2022 the resistance of the locals still continues and a new closed facility is not yet in sight. Just a new location has been found on private ground - right next to a giant dumpster. 
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No Rest on Lesbos by Michael Trammer
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