Authir: Remi Carlier | infomigrants.net | 9 January 2020
The NGO Samos Volunteers, based on the Greek island of Samos since 2015, runs a community center in the immediate vicinity of the Vathy camp and "jungle", into which 7,500 migrants are packed. It offers language courses, leisure and sports activities and, above all, a safe space to forget the harsh living conditions of the camp for a few hours.
Dimitriou Petrou Street, which leads to the reception center of the Samos "hotspot", divides two worlds. On one side, harnessed and equipped firefighters in their barracks practice rappelling and deploying fire hoses, essential skills on this island where forest fires are a permanent danger. On the other side, about ten Afghans and Congolese drag their feet on their way into a room with white walls from which a warm light emerges. The Alpha Centre in Vathy, 150 meters from the tents in the "jungle" of Samos, is the first reception area that migrants spot when they exit the camp.
The NGO Samos Volunteers, based in Vathy since the peak of the so-called refugee crisis in 2015, opened the center in the winter of 2016 at a time when the authorities were not yet overwhelmed by the situation there. About fifty volunteers, including twelve from the camp, offer leisure activities, sports activities, psychosocial support and language courses. "Above all, we help them fight boredom. Some of them have been there for a long time, it is very important to keep them busy, especially single men," explains Corien Tiemersma, one of the NGO's coordinators. Lawyers from Refugee Law Clinic Berlin and Lawyers Without Borders also provide information on asylum law.