Poor conditions in refugee camps as an obstacle to the social integration of beneficiaries of international protection
In the last months of 2022 it has become clear that the problems that have arisen in the refugee camps under the responsibility of the government, instead of being solved, seem to be getting worse. This is a process of intensifying impoverishment of the refugees who have remained in Greece, which started years ago and concerns all the areas of their lives.
t essentially concerns the plan of the deterrence policy, so that no one can bear living in Greece and be forced to leave the country. The erection of fences in the camps, the expulsion of the refugees from the houses where they live, in combination with the absence of reinforcement of any educational process, make impossible their integration into Greek society.
Even in camps that have not yet been closed with fences and barbed wire, there is such an exclusion from the wider social environment (the "outside world") that almost no one in the established communities is interested in the living conditions of the people there. Rather, the very fact of shielding their structures gives rise to the wrong belief that there are dangerous criminals guarded, so the authorities are rightly restricting their movements.
What is happening, at least since 2021, is that many subcategories of non-beneficiaries of resources and services have been created in the refugee camps. The current administration has tightened both the living conditions and the enjoyment of benefits and food, so that many of these people no longer meet the criteria. As a result, many of the refugees are no longer entitled to the common goods that should be provided unconditionally and without exception by any fair society, such as food, accommodation, care and education, or enjoy them only sporadically. For example, in many camps there are no general practitioners or pediatricians and the process of accessing the structures of the National Health System is very complicated. Furthermore, the education of children takes place with many obstacles, with a shorter school year, without teachers for the teaching of Greek as a foreign language in public schools, without school transport, etc.
Currently, the only camp where the installation of control and surveillance systems has been completed is Samos. Prior to the erection of the walls and the placement of the security guards, the refugees could receive visits from their friends and / or be hosted informally, even for a few days. There is now a plethora of contractors in "space security" services blocking entry. The so-called "beneficiaries" are treated as prisoners, without the right to receive visits.
Only those who have "work" can at the moment enter and leave with a card that is checked at the entrance, without yet undergoing an electronic check or time limit, but that too is coming soon. They now live in two separate worlds where the "inside" is separated by visible and invisible walls from the "outside" and this is intensified in parallel with the ban on the exit of any information by workers, journalists and of course, by the refugees themselves, who are afraid to talk about what they are experiencing and who they have no one to talk to about ir, because through the apartheid they experience they are not given the opportunity to build relationships of trust with the outside world.
With regard to food, when a family receives either a positive or a second negative response to the asylum requests of its members, it ceases to be entitled to food along with any other services, no later than one month after the formal delivery of this decision (provided by law that they must have left the accommodation structures of asylum seekers within a maximum of one month). However, the position of those who have received a second decision of rejection is perhaps the most difficult of all, as they lose hope of improving their living conditions, their identification documents are confiscated and at the same time they are under a lot of pressure to choose the so-called "voluntary repatriation". Alternatively, they try to escape through dangerous passages in order to escape deportation. In each case, they become invisible and their access to aid is suspended until the deadline given to them to leave the country has passed. It goes without saying that if they do not do so, they henceforth become illegal.
However, asylum seekers also face problems in securing the necessities of survival, as the meager financial assistance they received from the High Commission through the "cash card" until September 2021 has been reduced by half, after the period of October 2021 - January 2022, when its performance had been completely suspended. Instead of the remaining amount, which theoretically represents the cost of their food, the state has for some months now entrusted the feeding of campers as a contract to large catering companies, which ultimately cost more than the initial aid (150 for adults and 40 euros for children, with a maximum of 500 Euros per family) which has been cut in half. The rest who are not entitled to food, live through the alms of the neighbors who, realizing what it means to starve your children, without being able to offer them a plate of food, develop some basic structures of mutual aid.
Many asylum seekers work in dangerous and precarious, occasional jobs, especially in the seasonal fruit harvests. Poor working conditions also have a negative effect on education: older children who see their parents trying to work at high speeds to earn just over 20 to 25 Euros per hour (+ a kiosk croissant for lunch), also try to support the family effort of livelihood or at best, to make a small "stock" for their own needs, thus going with their parents to the field.
There are also cases where the firstborn and / or older children go to work instead of the parents (usually instead of the father) when the latter are considered very old (over 60) or have particular health problems. However, even in cases where some single parents go to work without their older children, the older (usually) girl takes on the role of mother, which means she can no longer go to school because she has to cook, clean and usually takes care of the younger siblings. Sometimes, the older child manages to keep a line in the family routine so that the younger ones go to school, but not always. In any case, either accompanying the parents, or alone in the field and / or in the role of caretaker of the younger siblings in the container, the vast majority of teenagers over 12 years old were out of school again this year, or because they had to make a living due to the cut assistance and food, or because of taking on adult responsibilities in the home environment.
Over time, it seems that the public school no longer provides any supportive framework for these children. The current educational leadership shows that it weakens their formal education, by understaffing the Reception Classes with staff for the teaching of Greek as a Foreign Language and by not permanently providing other social scientists in the schools who could contribute to the quality upgrade of their education, whereas at the same time transfers the center of gravity to the non-formal, training provided to them in a very minimum of hours within the camps.
According to the "Greek tradition" of the last three decades, the preparation of integrated intercultural education programs does not seem to interest the Ministry of Education. It is therefore expected that by maintaining an inhospitable and largely hostile environment in the public school and creating a series of barriers for refugee access to it, these children are excluded from the public good of education and in fact, in a manner that seems to be only literally lawful. In other words, Reception Classes are set up, children are enrolled, but then no staff is hired to teach Greek and / or there is no transfer to school, as the children themselves show that they are "not interested", without examining how this apparent "lack of interest" arises.
And the more it is found that "these children are not interested", the more the State does not support them, which means that it does not place teachers, psychologists or interpreters, etc. to support them. Thus, an endless, vicious circle of negative self-fulfilling prophecies is set in motion, which condemns them to become the next “lost generation".