Caoimhe Butterly on how to support refugee solidarity structures

Caoimhe Butterly

For those who have asked me how they can support/fund-raise for/volunteer with refugee solidarity structures and grassroots community groups in Lesvos, below are a few links. I’ve also linked to refugee solidarity and migrant justice networks (as well as a few very small NGOs) in Kos, Eidomeni, Skopje, Budapest etc, all of whom are doing vital support work for folks on the move across borders. All of the groups listed below are volunteer-run and attempt to off-set some of the humiliating conditions faced by refugee and migrant communities during their journeys with acts of direct solidarity and practical advice.

That support, though humanitarian in nature, is not de-politicised. The focus of many of the net-works is on both responding to the immediacy of peoples basic needs as they journey, as well as continuing and consolidating the movement against the securitised, death-defined borders of Fortress Europe.

Having spent much of this summer working with some of the groups listed below, the depth of their ongoing commitment was clear. It is a witness that is built on an understanding of mutual solidarity, of agency and recognition that it is deeply resilient, self-empowered refugee and migrant communities themselves who- through ongoing acts of civil disobedience and self-organisation- are putting into practise an effective challenge to policies and borders that ‘other’,divide and exile. Whatever support you can give to any of the groups below is much needed and will be used to sustain their great work.

Refugee Solidarity Movement Thessaloniki (a solidarity structure that provides food, water and welcome to folks passing through Thessaloniki on their way to the border)- contacts Amir Hamid Karimi and Craig Wherlock.

ΜΚΟ Αγκαλιά (a community-run half-way/rest-house in Lesvos founded by the beautiful rebel Papa Stratis, recently deceased, for those forced to walk over 70 km to reach the capital, Mytilene, that provides welcome, empathy, mattresses to rest on, drinking water,a shower, food, advice, basic first aid, hygiene supplies and whatever else is donated for distribution)- contact Katerina Efstathiou Selacha

Pikpa Camp (a place of respite and comparative dignity for the wounded, infirm, precarious and those who get stuck in Lesvos. Despite limited resources, it’s run with respect, love and a focus on mutual solidarity and provides shelter, community, food and medical care)- contacts Efi Latsoudi and Houssi Hmaidouch
Αλληλεγγύη Κως / Kos Solidarity (a solidarity network on Kos providing food, water, activities for children, advice and welcome)- contacts George Iosifidis Pub-Dropkick Murphys.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (a team of great folks bearing witness, accompanying, burying the dead with respect and dignity, providing what practical support they can to refugee communities in Kare Tepe and Moria, engaging in advocacy etc)- contacts Ramyar Hassani and Run Mih

Welcome to Europe (a brilliant network of activists from Germany and elsewhere- many of them second-generation young volunteers who have direct or family experience of seeking asylum, migration and of the refugee experience/journey. Amongst other forms of practical solidarity- presence in the informal camps, assistance in trying to access services for people, transporting families and supplies, organising solidarity concerts etc, they produce very useful, highly informative booklets in English, Arabic, Farsi etc with information, maps, legal advice, contact details of support organisations and solidarity structures, answers to commonly-asked questions etc. When some of their group left Lesvos a couple of weeks ago, on a ferry that was bringing hundreds of those seeking refuge and less precarious lives to Athens and onwards, they hung a huge banner at the back of the ship saying ‘Ferries, not Frontex’. Particularly for people who have language skills, they are a great group to be involved with)- contacts Ruby Ri Roula Saleh Mojtaba Hashemi

MigSzol Csoport- Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary (migrant justice and refugee support work, advocacy,witnessing, documentation, events, direct solidarity)- contact Veronika Kozma.

In Molyvos and Eftalou, Lesvos, Philippa Kempson, Eric Kempson, Elleni Jean Kempson and Melinda and Omar Al Said at the Captain’s Table try to guide/signal boats into safe landings, drive those who are unable to walk to Molyvos, distribute water and food and dry clothes, give advice re next steps and co-ordinate with whatever medics are in the area (always a real shortage) to try to provide medical care for those who need it. For those organising convoys to Calais who have surplus donations, Eftalou is a good place to send them, as is Pikpa.

Balkan Refugee Solidarity Network (a work-in-progress network to help link and co-ordinate joint practical and political strategies between the various grassroots community and activist groups that are providing solidarity,food, water, welcome and advice in Edomeni, Skopje, Serbia etc)- contact Gabriela Andreevska
And finally, social/solidarity kitchens organised by the lovely Kostas- he and other activists/volunteers are cooking and distributing hot food in the informal camps, at the port and in the streets of Lesvos, Athens and elsewhere.…

Caoimhe Butterly