Refugees in Greek legal limbo: 'I want to go back to Syria to die'

Rebecca Murray

At the volunteer-run Pikpa refugee camp adjacent to the Lesbos airport and sea shore, with the Turkish coastline in plain view, those lucky enough to stay here are increasingly apprehensive.

Odey, a 34-year old electrician from Baghdad, is exhausted from his protective role guiding his wife and children in a now decades-long journey in exile. He first fled Iraq after the US invasion in 2004, when his father and brother were murdered by militia, and set up a home from scratch in Syria.

Over one decade later Odey is on the run from war again, this time trekking across mountains in Kurdistan – his 10-year old daughter injured running from a border patrol - and braving the sea to land arriving here 10 months ago. He quavers when he describes the protracted ordeal of waiting to hear if his family will be deported or not. "I feel sick," he says, embarrassed by his tears.

Unlike neighbouring island Chios, with its angry presence of the conservative, anti-immigrant group Golden Dawn, Lesbos has a historical tradition of left-wing politics and intellectual visitors.

"Turkey is not a safe place," retorts Christina Chatzidakis, an organiser part of the local community nominated for the Nobel Peace prize, for their dedication to helping the more than 800,000 refugees that have passed through, at a peak of 3,000 arrivals a day in 2015.

Chatzidakis says the island was overwhelmed with refugees then, but that barring those fleeing conflict is inhumane. "We need to accept more – Europe is rich. But there needs to be dignified procedure to bring them to Europe direct, not by boat," she says.

"As for stopping all this? We need to stop the war."

Mohammed's name is assumed to protect his identity

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Source: Middle East Eye