Photo by Morteza Rahimi

Reporting from Schisto camp that is in quarantine

Does the idea of two weeks quarantine make you anxious? Nah! Don’t worry! It’s only for refugees who live in a refugee camp. 

People are already missing their friends and the joys of living in a community. Well, not just in one camp, several camps are in isolation all over Αttica. Once again refugees are paying for someone else’s mistakes!

It was the evening of September 7th when the police locked the gates of Schisto Refugee Camp near Athens. There was a rumour about a confirmed Covid-19 case in the camp, but no one took it seriously. Everyone thought that it would be only for one night, but I knew something wasn’t right! The other day I woke up at sunrise to sneak out for a quick run. Usually, when I am in the Camp paying a visit to my mother and younger brother, I don’t like going for a run. But the urge to enjoy the early morning and watching the camp still half asleep was so big, I really didn’t think about it. I guess I just wanted to fool myself believing everything was normal. Well it wasn’t!

When I saw a huge crowd next to the Camp Manager’s office waiting for him to arrive, together with refugees waiting to go out to work, and camp workers waiting to enter, I realised that with we were officially in quarantine.

You know the feeling when your whole body and mind feels empty and you can’t move or say anything… it’s called a panic attack. The first thing that came to mind was that I don’t live here, I have to get out! But going out is not the answer. It’s crystal clear now that we have to stay inside. It doesn’t matter if I am healthy or not, I have to take it seriously and not put other lives at risk, not burden the already weakened health-care system.

Questioning reality to look for a conspiracy theory is the obvious step when you spend the whole day sitting alone with your thoughts. It’s not like when the whole country was in lockdown. This experience is different. This feels like prison! The gates are locked and police are all around the camp. During general lockdown, you were allowed to go to the supermarket and other places, but now the circumstances are different. 

It all started when they brought the refugees who had been living in Victoria Square for months, to Schisto and other refugee camps. Did they test them for Covid-19 before bringing them here? Now, whose mistake is this? Who should we blame? Τhe refugees or the government? Only a few days after their transfer here, some were found positive for Covid-19. Do they care about us? We’re human beings too. I mean more than 1000 people are suffering and some of them have already lost their jobs because of this mistake. They care about locals, but what about those who are living in the camps and shelters?

Thank you for being careless!

Morteza Rahimi