How my dream of freedom died in Greece's ‘holding pens’


How my dream of freedom died in Greece's ‘holding pens’

View Original

Author: Katy Fallon, Bashar Deeb and Daniel Howden | | 5 April 2020

Ahmed Hemeda fled Syria only to end up in the Malakasa refugee camp, where more than 1,000 people are being denied basic human rights.

When Ahmed Hemeda landed in darkness on the Greek island of Lesbos he was convinced that the road ahead could not be as hard as the one he had just travelled.

But, instead of the volunteers and blankets that have met hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers before him, he was greeted by a jeering crowd of locals and had to be rescued by police. “It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had,” he said. “I felt that my dream of Greece was a false one.”

Hemeda was among the more than 2,000 refugees who have arrived in Greece since the beginning of March, when the country suspended all access to asylum.

Their experiences, from seeing their children drowned at sea to being attacked by angry islanders, separated from family and dumped in remote detention camps, offer a month-long, nightmarish vision of what Europe would look like with no asylum rights.