Nearly 120 Yazidis stranded outside Greek camp

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Nearly 120 migrants from the Yazidi minority have been blocked from entering a migrant camp in northern Greece, forcing them to sleep outside for two weeks, members of the group told AFP.

The Yazidi are a Kurdish-speaking minority in Iraq who fled in the thousands as ISIS advanced into the country from Syria in 2014.

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Hundreds have sought shelter in Greece, which until recently had dozens of camps housing asylum seekers around the country.

But authorities have been shutting most of them down after protests from local communities.

The camp near the northern city of Serres already houses some 1,000 people, including 700 Yazidis, most of the community currently in Greece.

Officials say it is at capacity.

“We have been sleeping on the ground for the past 12 days,” 22-year-old Fahad told AFP outside the camp Tuesday.

Yazidi migrants from Iraq wait for the entry into a refugee camp in Serres, northern Greece, as they have been stranded outside the camps in Serres for nearly two weeks, September 6, 2022. (AFP)
Yazidi migrants from Iraq wait for the entry into a refugee camp in Serres, northern Greece, as they have been stranded outside the camps in Serres for nearly two weeks, September 6, 2022. (AFP)



“Every day, we beg to be allowed to enter the camp. No one is helping us. We are scared and have nowhere else to go,” he said.

Greek officials have offered to allow entry only to women and children among the new group.

“The camp has no more room,” a Greek camp source said on condition of anonymity, confirming that there are about 120 Yazidis stranded outside.

“There are around 60 beds that will be made available to women or children if necessary. But most of those sleeping outside are young men,” the camp staffer said.

At the extremists’ hands, thousands of Yazidi women and teenagers were subjected to kidnapping, rape and other inhumane treatment, such as being held as slaves, the UN has said.

Greece has blocked over 150,000 undocumented migrants on its land and maritime border so far this year, September 6, 2022. (AFP)
Greece has blocked over 150,000 undocumented migrants on its land and maritime border so far this year, September 6, 2022. (AFP)



Outside the camp, Ibda Adhim, 21, says members of his group each paid 1,000 euros ($990) to smugglers in Turkey for help in reaching Greece.

“We walked for five days to get to Greece,” Adhim said, showing his bruised feet.

“We were told to go to another camp where Afghans and Syrians live but we are afraid to go there,” he said.

Members of the group who spoke to AFP said they want to stay in Greece.

Murad Ismael, co-founder of global Yazidi organization Yazda, on Tuesday said the Greek migration ministry “assured me they are working on the issue, and it will be addressed as soon as possible.”

In a statement to AFP, Ismael said officials had promised to provide shelter either at the city of Serres, or at another camp.

To discourage migration networks, Greece's conservative government has put emphasis on closing down dozens of camps that once housed asylum seekers nationwide.

The country currently has 34 camps compared to 121 two years ago, and plans to close another two, Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said in a weekend interview.

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