We receive many questions regarding the situation on Chios.
Greek authorities have decided to close down Souda refugee camp and move remaining residents to Vial refugee camp around eight kilometres from Chios Town. A Drop in the Ocean is currently working in Souda, and we are therefore forced to rethink our operation on Chios.
At the moment, around 150 persons are still living in Souda, mainly male asylum seekers with difficult cases. The ones not transferred to Vial will either be transferred to mainland Greece to undertake the next steps in the asylum process, or some perhaps, unfortunately, may be identified for deportation to Turkey.
A Drop in the Ocean does not have access to work within Vial refugee camp, but we know that the situation for residents there is difficult. The camp is full and infrastructure is at capacity, and while the authorities are not anticipating a significant increase in population and are working to respond to needs as they arise, people continue to arrive and we are aware of new arrivals being forced to sleep outside.
“While Souda Camp has never been a humane or suitable living environment for people, we are concerned that the remote location of Vial and a lack of sufficient transport provision will increase the isolation of displaced people and the detrimental impact of that, and limit residents’ ability to access necessary support services; educational, medical, legal, psychosocial, and activity-based services available in Chios Town. The closure of any camp is only a positive step if living conditions and facilities are improved as a result and that is yet to be seen”, says William Heaney, Head of Operations.
Our recently opened Drop Market in Chios Town will continue to exist, and we will continue to support refugees on Chios through this popular scheme providing it is practical and useful to do so. We are currently working on needs and feasibility assessment to establish ways in which we can service people’s needs after the closure of Souda camp. We will also continue to report on the difficult conditions for refugees on the island while we remain.
This means, however, that the need for volunteers to Chios has changed. At the moment, we will not accept new volunteers to Chios, but this may change in the near future. Instead, we would encourage people to sign up for Nea Kavala camp in Northern Greece, or Skaramagas camp near Athens. Both are currently in need of volunteers.
We are currently working on setting up a new location in Greece pending the relevant permissions. More information will follow shortly.
It is important to remember that the situation is changeable day by day, the information we provide is always accurate at the time of publication but circumstances on the ground may change and impact this.