After the Taliban killed 8 of their family members in Pakistan, they decided it was time to leave the country and head off to Europe. Highly educated as they are, they have been inside this container for around 9 months already. Their children haven't gotten any education for 2 years. They speak fluent English.
In the background: the main centre of VIAL where refugees and migrants get medical care and have their so called interviews to determine if they are to travel to Athens or not.
The inhabitants of the center have made holes in the fences in order to provide more freedom of movement for themselves
Hairdresser from Syria doing his job “I don’t want food or clothes, I want a life”.
Every day at fixed times breakfast, lunch and dinner is handed out at the camp by volunteers. Especially during dinner the situation can spiral out of control for reasons from theft to somebody not getting in line. Tensions are high at the camp. Youssef, a young Moroccan soccer player who fled for financial reasons was playing soccer in the morning with children with a large smile on his face. “I’ll stay a day or six, then I’ll head over to Athens”. The same night there was a riot between two groups of refugees. “You think it is safe for me to sleep here tonight? Will the police arrest me?”. He looked tired and worrisome.
Making a fire is the only way to provide heating during the cold nights in Souda camp. The camp does not provide heating systems. The cover provided by tents, extra blankets and these fires are the only ways to cope with the cold.
Typical evening scene inside the VIAL enclosure. Many of the families and children go outside to socialize and to be together since the public space provides more freedom than their individual containers.
Football is a favorite way for children to pass time in Souda camp, next to the games being organized by the volunteers.
On the surface it seems that children are not that much affected by the situation: they play games, smile and seem to be happy. Yet the lack of education, proper food and the fear for attacks or riots is worsening the children's state of mind and hope for the future. I met a young Syrian girl who could literally name every capital in every country in the world. She has not been to school for over two years.
For single men without a refugee status, the process of getting an answer about your future is incredibly long. Vulnerable cases such as women, children, handicapped and so forth are given priority. Most African men have spend months and months in either camp.
Normally there are 12 people in this container.
One advantage of VIAL is that every family or people from the same country have their own container. Nigerians next to Afghans and Afghans next to Pakistanis.