Interview with Aziz from Afghanistan
We met Aziz in Moria. He spoke to us in German. In small tents along the dusty paths, the inhabitants have set up small shops, where you can buy food, find a hairdresser, or get some hygiene products. Aziz has a stand where he sells fruits and vegetables. To make a living, he sells what he can in Mytilene, a city about 10km away. But actually, he wants to leave Moria as soon as possible and has been waiting for months for the decision on his application for asylum.
Between the “olive groves”, a bit away from the camp, we meet Aziz again and he tells us his story. He has lived in Germany for five to six years. He completed a carpentry apprenticeship in Bavaria where he lived and worked. Until one day the "Foreigners Authority" contacted him and demanded his Afghan identity card. The problem was that Aziz has never really lived in Afghanistan. His family fled the country when he was young, and he grew up in the neighbouring country of Iran.
Since he could not present this identity card within the required period, he was deported. Aziz recounts the shock when suddenly two policemen came to him, while he was on his way to work. They said he had half an hour to pack his things. Then they took him to the airport and he had to fly to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, a foreign county for him, has been destroyed over decades of brutal wars. Violent clashes between conflicting parties, where the civilian population is deliberately threatened by bomb attacks. Aziz witnessed how more than 50 people were killed in an explosion. As he couldn’t live in this threatening situation, he decides to flee again and sets off for Europe, where he hopes to find a safe place to live.
He ended up in Moria, where he is forced to live in a confined space with over 22,000 people. He says that he feels like a prisoner because there is nothing he can do but wait. Every day he stands for hours in the queues for food, at the distribution of water, at the toilets and showers. Aziz is very worried that COVID-19 will spread in these conditions. This would be a total disaster, given the inadequate supply to fulfil basic needs, the extreme confinement of space and lack of opportunities to protect oneself or wash one's hands several times a day.
Aziz wishes to leave Moria as soon as possible. He wants to be in a place where he can stay, where he can find a job and live with his family. He says he wants to live a normal life.
The privilege of living in a safe place can hardly be felt more clearly than when people talk about their escape story. European fundamental and human rights, such as the right to freedom and security or the right to a fair trial, do not apply for refugees living in the Moria hotspot, nor in any other camp in Greece. Europe holds a Nobel Peace Prize but is sealing itself off so that people who are looking for protection and security cannot participate in the more peaceful society that it has created.
Germany plays a central role in this policy of deterrence. In the international context, Germany is involved in arms deliveries to war zones, in setting up collective camps for refugees outside of European borders and it supports regimes that commit human rights violations. Refugees living in Germany are housed in inhumane camps, the right to seek asylum has been increasingly weakened during the last years in order to deport refugees to supposedly safe areas where they are exposed to serious threats to their lives.