Τα ξενοδοχεία είναι τα σπίτια μας, οι ζωές μας, τα όνειρά μας...»
Στην απειλή της «επίταξης» ξενοδοχειακών μονάδων για τη φιλοξενία προσφύγων και μεταναστών απάντησε η Αφροδίτη Βάτη Μαριόλα από τη Λέσβο με μια ανάρτηση στο Facebook που συζητήθηκε. Μια ανάρτηση γραμμένη στα αγγλικά για να διαβαστεί από ένα διεθνές κοινό, η οποία εστάλη με e-mail στο υπουργείο Μεταναστευτικής Πολιτικής και στον αρμόδιο υπουργό, Γιάννη Μουζάλα, όπως γράφει το lesvosnews.net.
Η Αφροδίτη από τη Μυτιλήνη απαντά στον κ. Μουζάλα ότι τα «ξενοδοχεία είναι τα σπίτια μας, οι ζωές μας, τα όνειρά μας και οι ελπίδες μας». Του υπενθυμίζει ότι φτιάχτηκαν με θυσίες γονιών και δεν είναι άψυχες επενδύσεις πολυεθνικών εταιρειών.
Ζητά από τον υπουργό Μεταναστευτικής Πολιτικής να μην «κουνά το δάχτυλο» για το δράμα των προσφύγων, διότι το γνωρίζουν από πρώτο χέρι.
«Πού ήσασταν όταν οι βάρκες έφταναν στις ακτές μας κάθε μέρα;
Πού ήσασταν όταν εκατοντάδες άνθρωποι ξεπάγιαζαν από το κρύο και εμείς καλούσαμε την αστυνομία και το λιμενικό για βοήθεια;
Πού ήσασταν εσείς και η τοπική αυτοδιοίκηση όταν εμείς μοιράζαμε νερό, ρούχα, τροφή και πρώτες βοήθειες στους πρόσφυγες;».
«Κύριε Μουζάλα ξέρετε ποιος ήταν εκεί; Η οικογένειά μου», υπογραμμίζει η Αφροδίτη από τη Μυτιλήνη, η οποία ζητά από τον υπουργό Μεταναστευτικής Πολιτικής να σταθεί στο ύψος των περιστάσεων και να δώσει μια ανθρωπιστική και συνολική λύση χωρίς διακρίσεις.
Ζητά μια λύση που δεν θα παίζει με τις ζωές των προσφύγων και που δεν θα στρέφει τους πρόσφυγες και μετανάστες ενάντια στην τοπική κοινότητα και το αντίστροφο.
Διαβάστε την ανάρτηση της κυρίας Αφροδίτης Βάτη Μαριόλα στα αγγλικά:
Dear Mr. Mouzalas, Minister of Immigration Policy:
A few days ago you addressed the hoteliers of Lesvos, stating that "their hotels are not their homes" and that it is their fault that the refugees in Moria are suffering in the extreme winter conditions which hit Lesvos a few days ago. Each time I read this statement, my heart is pierced again and again as you cannot be more wrong.
These hotels, Mr. Mouzalas, ARE our homes. They are our lives, our dreams, our hopes. They are not lifeless entities or multinational corporations with huge investors sitting safely in the background. They have been built upon the sacrifices, struggles and agonies of men and women who naively dared to dream that this would be their legacy, which they would leave behind for their children and grandchildren. These hotels are alive and have souls. They are families which consist not only of mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. They consist of every single person who has also worked in these hotels, along with each of their families. They consist of every single colleague and supplier with whom they have worked, along with each of their families. They consist of every single guest who has come year after year along with their families.
Our hotels ARE our homes. My parents spent every last cent they had after having worked 18 years as migrants in the United States, with the sole hope and dream to one day return to their homeland, Greece, to build on the very strip of land that my own father's family had lived on as farmers. My family's hotel is where I have spent my childhood, my teenage years, and my summers coming home from university. It is where my most beloved and most difficult memories have been created. It is where my heart was broken for the first time. It is where year after year, from the dawn to dusk, we have shed tears, sweat and blood to keep it alive, to pay our loans, our taxes, our colleagues. It is where my children were born. It is where I breastfed my children by the sea and where they learned to walk and swim for the first time. It is where my cousins and friends were married. It is where my beloved uncle used to fish on the rocks and bring us sea urchins for lunch. It is where my parents have grown white and wrinkled with time as the moment quickly approaches when it will be my turn to take over the reigns alongside my sister and husband so that we too may leave a legacy for our children. Mr. Mouzalas, if this is not a home, then what is?
And please don't tell me that the refugees and migrants suffering on Lesvos have risked their lives in plastic dinghies to get here because they are fleeing war, terrorism and poverty and we must help them. I KNOW THIS FIRST HAND. I was there. My family was there- every single moment of every single day for almost a year on the beach of our hotel- on the beach of my home, when dinghy after dinghy would arrive nonstop.
Where were you, Mr. Mouzalas and where was my government?
Where was the EU and the rest of the western world in 2015, before any volunteers or NGOs ever arrived on Lesvos and on the rest of the Northern Aegean islands, to help us?
Where were you when we had 400 people freezing on our beach and were calling the police, the coastguard and the medical centers for help and the only reply we received over and over again was, "We are so sorry- but you are on your own. We cannot help you because we too are understaffed and alone. We have no one to help you."
Where were you when we were running to patch up broken heads, people with hypothermia or being handed babies wrapped in plastic bags by their parents to protect them from the freezing water as they were tumbling out onto the rocky shore?
Where were you, where was the local government and where was the media when we were giving water, clothes, food, first aid, transportation and cleaning our beaches over and over and over again, day after day, all at our own expenses?
Where were you to help us when our lives were threatened by a smuggler as he pulled a knife out on us within one meter of me?
For me, it felt as if you were nowhere.
Do you know who was there, though? My "family". It was our employees, our guests, our friends from the surrounding villages who came to our side for all those months. And when the volunteers arrived, it was countless numbers of strangers who came to our aid because our government did not. All we asked for was for some help so that we too wouldn't be lost in this human wave arriving on our shores- so that we may be able to continue to help and support in any way we could. This help never arrived, but still we helped, even though we were left alone and we knew deep down in our hearts that what we were doing would soon become our own downfall, due to the fact that the government and the EU was purposefully failing to take action. Still we helped because it was the humane thing to do and we would do it again because we were not willing to pay the price of losing our own humanity.
But where were you Mr. Mouzalas and the Greek government in 2016 when tourism plummeted almost 70% on the northern part of the island, to help the very people who were on the forefront of this unprecedented refugee crisis?
Where were you when we had to tell our employees of many years that we would not be able to support them and their families with a job, leaving them unemployed, unable to receive unemployment benefits and health insurance?
Where were you when my friends had to close their shops and become migrants themselves to other countries because Greece had forsaken them?
Where are you and the government now, when all these small and middle-sized family-run businesses are failing to pay their loans and abide by their obligations, leaving them in danger of losing their "homes" and becoming migrants themselves?
I am sorry, Mr. Mouzalas, but if you truly cared about the refugees and the state in which they have been living in for almost a year now, you would have taken action months and months ago. The EU-Turkey agreement was signed in March 2016, so why did we have to arrive at the year 2017 to suddenly feel the urgency to take action? Did we not know that winter was going to arrive again with extreme conditions and that so many people were living in limbo in Moria camp? Is it because the international press and social media have put pressure on the local congressmen, politicians and on the Ministry of Immigration? Instead of winterizing these camps, instead of renting closed warehouses, instead of offering government owned buildings which are closed, instead of using the money provided by the EU to prepare these facilities, it is suddenly the fault of the hoteliers that the refugees are suffering in these extreme weather conditions?
You ask for hotels to open. Which hotels do you mean? The ones that are already open and are immediately accessible for use and have been housing NGOs, volunteers and refugees
on occasion already, or the ones that have been closed for months now as they are not able to run during the winter months due to the fact that they are seasonal hotels with facilities suitable only for the hot summer months?
You state that "it is an indignity to civilization to not open your hotels." Do you have any idea what opening a closed hotel entails when you say that? Do you think that these hotels would not already have been opened to support their families during the winter months if they could? Do you not care that you are asking families to bear a weight and a cost that they are literally and physically unable to bear because they are already broken? How much more do you think all these families can bear? Shouldn't it be at the liberty and discretion of each business, of each family, of each citizen to decide if, how and to what degree they are able to help? But mustn't they be able to secure their own existence as well? Instead, the easy solution for many is to place labels such as "racists" and "inhumane" on the locals by people.
By making such statements, you are merely trying to reallocate your responsibilities and obligations and you are trying to create a smokescreen to hide your own shortcomings and mistakes. By failing to realize this, you are failing twofold....firstly by not providing a solution to the inhumane conditions that the refugees and migrants are forced to endure and then again by failing to protect and support the local families which have been crying for help from the Greek government and the EU for months, as their livelihoods and spirit have been crushed devastatingly. Is this not an "indignity to civilization" and an indignity to all these families?
Please, Mr. Mouzalas, do not become co responsible for the subjugation of ALL these families. I implore you to rise to the occasion and provide a humanitarian solution for the sake of and for the benefit of all the human beings stuck in these hell-hole limbo camps, and for the sake of and for the benefit of all the local families and businesses which, too, have been forgotten and ignored in a state of limbo on all the all Aegean islands. The plight of the refugees and immigrants and the consequent plight of the local communities are two different situations which are united and intertwined at the same time.
Please, Mr. Mouzalas, rise to the occasion and provide a humanitarian solution which will take into consideration all these dimensions instead of playing with the lives and turning the refugees, the migrants and the local communities against each other.
Aphrodite Vati Mariola