Refugees Attacked by Far-Right Extremists: A Statement from the Humanitarian Organisations of Chios
We, the undersigned voluntary organisations of Chios, have been providing humanitarian aid on the island for over a year and have witnessed a steady deterioration of conditions within the camps. We address you now as a matter of absolute urgency.
Following a meeting of far-right extremists on Chios on Tuesday evening (15/11/2016), the island has witnessed a series of violent attacks on refugees and volunteers, as well as the arbitrary arrest and detention of refugees, international volunteers, and journalists.
Volunteers and refugees have documented the following events and attacks which took place on Wednesday night (16/11/2016): large boulders were dropped onto tents where families, including young children, were sleeping, which resulted in one refugee suffering a fractured skull. Additionally, several containers, serving as accommodation, were damaged. The entrances and exits of Souda camp appeared to have been deliberately blocked by police, while refugees were beaten by extremists without intervention from the police. This was followed by the arbitrary arrest of refugees, volunteers, and journalists. Two nurses volunteering on the island were dragged from a tent in Souda, beaten and strip-searched by the local police. Without being provided with any information as to the reason for their detention, they were held for 13 hours and released without charge.
The following night (17/11/2016), extremists threw petrol bombs at tents in which refugees were sleeping, setting fire to parts of the camp. Abandoning their shelters out of fear, approximately 120 people slept outdoors, with babies as young as 3 months old. Some were subsequently targetted and beaten by extremists. On Saturday (19/11/2016), a pregnant woman, whose shelter had been attacked in Souda, miscarried, losing her twins.
Multiple witnesses amongst both volunteers and refugees can attest to the violence outlined above and to the lack of intervention from the police.
The events that have taken place on Chios since last Thursday constitute serious breaches of the rights to human dignity, life, physical integrity, liberty, shelter and freedom of press. The lack of police intervention in securing those rights violates the obligation of the state to protect all people within its territory regardless of their legal status. Therefore, we request that
- the authorities of Chios shall, as a matter of the greatest urgency, guarantee the physical safety of all refugees;
- the authorities of Chios shall guarantee the physical safety of all aid workers and journalists on the island;
- national authorities shall, in cooperation with the UNHCR and other organisations, promptly provide safe accommodation for the refugees;
- national authorities shall conduct a thorough investigation of these incidents whose findings will be made publicly available, prosecute those responsible for the violence outlined above, and provide appropriate redress for the victims.
This is an emergency situation and it must be responded to as such.
Action From Switzerland
Be Aware And Share
Dråpen i Havet [A Drop in the Ocean]
The People’s Street Kitchen of Chios