The Alexandria Refugee Camp is situated in Greece (Central Macedonia).
When compared to the very publicised Calais Jungle and Za’atari camps, perhaps Alexandria seems to be a little better off. It was a former military camp so there are some basic facilities that still remain. Current site management and occupancy registration is by The Hellenic Army and whilst that itself may bring about some concerns there is an element of stability and structure within the camp. But by no means is Alexandria without issues pertaining to the people living there, especially the children.
Images by Tara Todras-Whitehill for the IRC Retrieved from https://www.rescue.org
Statistics of camp
Images taken from UNHCR Report, Site Profile Alexandria, May 2016.
What is already being done in camp
Alexandria camp is receiving support from some organisations and volunteers who are doing their best to achieve a level of comfort and also dignity for the refugees, for them to feel valued while they are hopefully, only temporarily, living in Alexandria. When we see some of the facilities and the infrastructure set up at Alexandria, we must still remember that the people here want to move on. They want to reunite with their families who have made it safely to other countries. They want to have a sense of normalcy and routine to their day which is so important for the children. The report below may describe a level of comfort however, I have read other reports that state it to be quite different. But above all, they deserve to be living in safe, clean conditions and have access to ammenities.
My research has shown that although there is a school, Muhammed is only able to go three days per week. The school building is still a work in progress but again, volunteers from Rescue Support Greece are doing a great job to get it ready. This post from Facebook shows promise that the youngest children, including Muhammed, will soon be able to have access to a safe place to learn.Image from Facebook, Refugee Support Greece page, October 2016.
First hand report from the camp
This ‘Diary from the front line’ gives us a realistic look into the camp at Alexandria from an outsider’s point of view.
Greek Mainland Camps Report
This report has been compiled by a mixed team of independent volunteers, members from informal groups focussed on refugee assistance and from smaller registered NGO’s.
Alexandria 15th April 2016 12:15
We gained access to camp, toured with a senior volunteer and then also spoke with groups of males, a mother with children and to the army.
Open military controlled camp
Opened about ~4th April, 11 days ago
Capacity 764 – just reached. Not much room for more expansion
Ongoing measles outbreak – no new cases in 4 days but some still ill
On site of ex-military camp
Old buildings across the site, some now being renovated
Iraqi, Syrian, a few Afghan
- Very detailed e.g recording clothing and shoe sizes
- Army provide these details to volunteers who can then order/distribute exactly what is required
- ‘Ration card’ system to ensure each individual receives same level of service – both for food and all NFI
- Long sink with ~15 taps in middle of camp. Residents drink tap water.
- No hot water
- Army food
- 3 meals distributed together once per day
- Volunteers provide fruit when able (most days)
- Free shop run by volunteers (see photo)
- Shop opening times divided by tent (e.g “tent 1-50 at 10am, 51-100 at 10:45am etc”)
- Stocks hygiene/sanitary items, snacks, clothes, long-life milk
- Showers – separate showering times for men and women
- One family per tent
- Tents numbered
- Camping beds with mattresses
- Army very kind
- Volunteers say they often take a collection and buy chocolate etc for children
- One male resident said relationship with army/officials “very very good”
- No wifi
- Mosquitoes – bites taking up excessive doctor time
- Particularly significant snake problem
- Hot water installation has been delayed a few times – residents awaiting eagerly
- Little lighting
- Toilets being cleaned twice per day though one report they are still unclean
- Residents not allowed to make fires – cannot currently cook for themselves and would like to
- Only one hot meal distributed since opening
- Nurses and doctors – longer term (2 weeks plus), self-funding. Medicines will be provided.
- Transportation – hospital 45km away
- Ongoing need for baby food, milk and milk bottles (only volunteers paying for this now)
Already in place
- Main group working and funding site: http://www.refugeesupport.eu/
- 2 full time camp managers on-site from ~18th Apr
- Excellent cooperation from army/officials
- Free ‘shop’ constantly re-stocked with essentials
- IRC and InterSOS just arrived
- Army doctor 9am-12noon
- Funding secured and work about to start on renovating abandoned buildings to include:
- Communal kitchen
- Social area
- Resident-run shops
- Barber shop
- Beauty salon
- One other
- Toilet and shower building
- These are all awaiting sign-off by Ministry of Immigration in Athens
- Children’s playground planned
- Wifi installation planned
- Mosquito nets on the way
- Charging stations (busy)
- One kettle per tent now distributed ~20th April
- Volunteer reports UNHCR information sessions three times per week however residents interviewed were not well informed about asylum options etc
Initiative and Learning Spaces for camp
See Teachers Without Borders Initiative (Child-Friendly Spaces) for further information for Alexandria.
See Learning Spaces (Personal, eSpace, Group Collaborative Cooperative and Liminal) for further information for Alexandria.