On October 13, many residents of the Nea Kavala refugee camp gathered at its entrance, holding banners and shouting angrily. The reason for such a scene like this was to protest against the implementation of a new protocol that prevents them from accessing food. Indeed, they had been living – and still, live – this situation since September. Yes, unbelievable but true: nearly half of the 1,200 residents are not receiving food, according to calculations made by Info Migrants.
But why is this happening? Since 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was responsible for paying the financial allowance of 200,000 asylum seekers from Greece. However, since September 2021, the Greek government has taken over the assistance program. The consequences have been not only the delays in such vital allowances but also the implementation of a food distribution system that has surprised many residents in the camp.
Shakiba (19), who has been living in Nea Kavala for two and a half years now, describes this situation as “really boring and worrying”. She explains that “a message was issued that food would be distributed for an unknown period of time and that migrants would not receive any money for about three months”. Suddenly, people who had been granted refugee status and those whose asylum appeals have been rejected were no longer entitled to these allowances.
Asylum officers are severely delaying the asylum process.Shakiba (19)
According to Shakiba, the main reason for the protests that took place in October is that “asylum officials are severely delaying the asylum process”, which clearly affects the selection of the beneficiaries of these allowances. “I recently did an interview and, according to the new law, those who have been interviewed in the last four or five months must, in fact, pass two interviews”. Shakiba is still waiting for the answer to her first interview. “If it is positive, it is not clear how long I will have to wait for the answer to my second interview and my documents…”, she sighs.
Finally, being asked about the authorities’ reaction to the protest, Shakiba says that they “tried to end the demonstration just by saying that we have to wait, and we can’t do anything”. From Open Cultural Center, we are worried about these events, and thus we want to make this situation known and give voice to the ones affected, some of whom collaborate in our projects.