For the past two months, the Greek authorities have suspended the financial support of 75 Euros per person that all asylum seekers in Greece are entitled to. Tens of thousands are affected by this. As a replacement, the government promised direct distribution of food rations, which have been notorious for their poor quality for years and have caused food poisoning in the past.
In solidarity with the protesters in Ritsona and across the country, we relay here the voice of Parwana Amiri, „revolutionary refugee“ and author from Afghanistan and currently living in the Ritsona „Open Reception Facility“ in Greece. She sent us the following message:
„Today we stopped the food car to say that, we don’t want prepared food anymore.
‚Food is not enough, when we have patients who needs medicine, tell them to stop their empty promises.‘ Says X. from Kongo community.‘
It has been 2 months that refugees in Greece are without cash.
The prepared Food is not fresh, neither acceptable, beside it is always the same.„
Since mid-September, asylum seekers have not received financial support, depriving them of key means to maintain a small measure of self-determination in Greece’s highly restrictive asylum policy. The background to this is the agreed handover of the ESTIA programme from the UNHCR to the Greek government, through which asylum seekers receive a monthly sum of money and, in special circumstances, the possibility of housing outside the camps.
While the handover of the housing programme was completed in the summer, the UNHCR also stopped its financial services on 15 September, which were supposed to be continued by the government. By the end of October, however, around 36,000 people had not received any money from the Greek authorities, according to an open letter from 26 civil society organisations. It states:
„It is estimated that 60 per cent of people living in camps on the mainland receive no food. Food insecurity, let alone outright food deprivation, should not be experienced by anyone, certainly not by the state.„
The Migration Ministry initially promised to resume payments in November. Meanwhile, food rations given out in the meantime would only be available to people still in the asylum process.
The news from Ritsona confirms that the situation has not changed for three months now, despite declarations by the authorities to address the problem. This is another face of the policy of deterrence that the Greek government is single-mindedly pursuing at many levels.
In solidarity with the protesters in Ritsona and throughout the country,
The Migration Control Editorial Board