Island of Lesvos – Pipka is a camp, self-managed by the activists of Lesvos Solidarity since 2016, and these last few days, leading up to the eve of the announced closure, have been hectic and dramatic days.
When we arrive, we find the volunteers busy helping the people hosted there to prepare their luggage for the evacuation: “Mum, get your coat. It’s cold in Moria” said one of the many children who will be forced to leave the camp, already aware of the fate that awaits him. The only alternative is in fact the new shameful camp, placed near Kara Tepe.
We meet the activists who tell us about the tragic happenings of the last few weeks: on 23 September – through the press – the government announced its intention to close Pikpa by the end of October. Three days later, the activists, informed by the press, found out that the closure had been moved up to the 15th. There wasn’t any contact or confrontation between the authorities and Lesvos Solidarity, although they requested it time and time again. This silence lasted until a few days ago when the police warned them with a phone call that on Monday, 12 October operations to close the camp will begin.
“They’re terrified, they don’t sleep at night. Even the children know what they are going to face” says Carmen Dupont, an activist of Lesvos Solidarity. “Losing a place like Pikpa is not only a defeat for Lesvos but for the whole of Europe. They do not want people to see that there is an alternative to their model. They do not accept that there are places where people are actually welcomed, places built on self-management and solidarity. They cannot bear to think that migrants are out of their control“.
About one hundred vulnerable residents here in Pikpa risk to end up in the hell that is a new government camp: unaccompanied minors, single mothers, victims of torture, Lgbt subjects, ill people that only Pikpa in these years has been able to protect and host with dignity.
“The government recognized us only as long as we could be useful to them: in 2018, when hundreds of Kurds left Moria camp, the government had to deal with all these people sleeping in the street,” Carmen continued. “The authorities were begging us to take them in. That’s how we took in more than 300 people.
In that case we were useful in order to fill their unforgivable gaps, but now we are an obstacle to their political plans.
Pikpa – she continues – has proved to be a model of hospitality that works, despite the limited resources. We have shown that a new model of hospitality is possible. The government and Europe continue to implement borders and rejection policies, funding prison camps and paying illegal rejection agencies. But when someone miraculously manages to get through the gates of Europe, all possible systems are put in place to make their life a living hell.
What they want – she concludes – is to show the worst of Europe’s faces. We want to continue to believe that we are the best. We will not stop“.