The government was absent, according to Christos Melidis, who wrote a blog entry on OffTheRecord.net.gr from the northern Greek city of Kavala. But the average citizenry came through to respond to the urgent needs of more than 1,200 human beings who were en route to their city.
With unilateral border closures in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia and other nations along the Balkan routes to northern Europe, tens of thousands of refugees are finding their journey blocked, creating a bottleneck in Greece.
Thousands are camped out in central Athens squares, riots are breaking out along the northern border town of Idomeni where FYROM police are throwing teargas at crowds of families trying to break through the border and more are stuck along Greece’s frontier islands where ferry service has been stopped to stem the flow to the Greek mainland.
So officials are trying to disperse the crowds of stranded refugees by dispersing them across Greece’s northern cities, leaving the responsibility to volunteer groups and average citizens to care for these people, or risk having them roaming their town squares and streets with nowhere to sleep.
Christos in his blog reported that the city of Kavala had 24 hours’ notice and had no plan in place to deal with the arriving refugees, forcing regular citizens to act so there wasn’t a humanitarian catastrophe on their hands. 1,200 people is a lot for a small city like Kavala to handle— all at once.
Christos writes, in Greek:
No government did this. No politician, none of those who go in front of cameras looking for fanfare.
Because the government was absent from this drama.
Average, simple people of Kavala did it. By themselves.
He’s referring to the unbelievable task of preparing for the arrival of 1,200 hungry, homeless refugees who were en route to their city. Christos says neither the local, nor the regional government of Kavala had a plan inlace to deal with such an emergency, despite so much in the news about the bottleneck of refugees and other cities like Kozani dealing with the same problems.
“The government was absent. No one response dot our cries for assistance, no one took responsibility, no one told us what would happen. And as a result, the burden fell where it always falls— on average people, on the average citizens of Kavala.”
Melidis cited the president of the chamber of commerce, Angelos Tsatsoulis, who opened Kavala’s large exhibition and convention center as a temporary welcome center and facility to house the arrivals so they weren’t left out in the cold.
Melidis also recognized the dozens of doctors, volunteers and regular citizens who made the individual decision to leave their families, leave their jobs and stay up all night preparing the facility, gathering food and getting everything in order for the arrival of 1,200 guests.
He goes on to describe the scene as a war zone, with injured and hungry people everywhere and local volunteers rushing to tend to them as fast as possible, including sick and pregnant women who needed immediate transport to the hospital to deliver their babies.
In his post, Melidis praised the average citizens of Kavala who showed their humanity.