More migrant clashes with police on Lesbos Island leaves Christian asylum seekers terrified
|London: July 20, 2017. (PCP) British Pakistani Christian has learned from Pak-Christian asylum seekers at Lesbos Island's infamous Moira Camp. We have been advised that clashes have broken out for the second time in eight days.
Greek Authorities arrested 35 migrants on Tuesday for public disturbance offences during the riots police were forced to use tear gas against protesters who were throwing large stones at them.
Rioters who were entirely made up of Muslim also set fire to tents inside and out the perimeter of the camp. There are very few Christians seeking asylum residing at Moria Camp, as most of them flee the Island as soon as an opportunity arises after experiencing persecution.
Whilst rioting increases at Moria Camp BPCA is pressuring the Greek government to change a policy that is preventing homeless Christian refugees who fled persecution, bullying and threats inside the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos from being able to apply for asylum and gain help via the United Nations.
This is not the first time that shelters have been set alight at Moria Camp and Christians are becoming increasingly nervous. BPCA Chairman who was one of the first helpers for victims at the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, has warned that unfettered arson attacks of this nature will end up in innocent lives being lost and has urged Greek authorities to seek out the perpetrators of the fire and use international law to remove them from the Island for the protection of others. Especially considering a disabled Christian was almost burnt alive when asleep in a shelter during the famous
We recently wrote to the U.N. and Greek authorities on behalf of Pakistani Christian refugees who fled from Lesbos Island's famous Moria asylum camp due to the level of persecution they experienced at the hands of Muslims inside the camp.
Mr Chowdhry has been told Greek authorities have put in place a "geographical restriction" that is effectively blocking asylum seekers who escaped persecution at one of the refugee camps on the Greek islands from being able to apply for asylum with the Greek authorities on the mainland without having to return to the very camp they were being persecuted in.
We have been advised that the only exception to that rule is if an asylum seeker has a severe health condition that qualifies as a mitigating factor to allow his or her asylum application to be assessed on the Greek mainland. Our research indicates that the policy is designed to make it easier to track asylum-seeking refugees by limiting their movement.
We have called on Greece's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Dimitris Caramitsos for help in seeking a change to the policy. In a letter Mr Chowdhry, wrote: "I would like to bring to your attention several reports of persecution that have been raised with the British Pakistani Christian Association, relating to persecution of Christians within the Muslim-majority ... Moria Camp,"
"Christians are being prevented from holding church services, worshiping and praying by their Muslim neighbors. Moreover, reports of tents being burned down, violence, bullying, harassment and severe threats paint a very bleak picture of the quality of life for Christians caught up within the camp."
"The majority of Christian refugees escape but are being refused asylum by Greek authorities who only consider adverse health as a mitigating factor and not Christian persecution," Chowdhry's email continued. "We are seeking your help in obtaining a change in the current Greek policy in which the risk of proven re-persecution of Christians counts as a mitigating factor for asylum assessment for escapees of Moria Camp."
Mr Caramitsos has not yet respond to Mr Chowdhry's email.
Failure to assess asylum seekers leaves them in a place of limbo with no status. This prevents them receiving statutory assistance from the Greek Authorities and help from UNHCR.
One of the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers suffering from the policy is Haroon Maqbool, who is father of two from Rawal Pindi, Pakistan.
Mr Maqbool fled Pakistan, which ranks as the fourth-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution according to Open Doors USA, in 2016 after being imprisoned and tortured.
In August 2016, Mr Maqbool arrived in Lesbos on a boat with other asylum seekers and the group was taken to Moria camp to register for asylum.
Mr Maqbool informed BPCA that "Muslim's push Christians to the back of the queue and tell us not to enter the camp or we will d be killed."
Maqbool and the other Christian men in the group "realized they would not survive long in the camp." Even though they submitted their fingerprints at the camp, the group did not complete their asylum applications before they escaped the camp and the island.
"Haroon was bullied immediately hae and other Christians lived on the fringes of the camp for safety and one day when an opportunity came their way they escaped the camp by taking a dangerous trip under the tarpaulin of a cargo ship. Their only desire was to escape the demoralizing daily persecution Christians face at the camp. Read more (click here)
Even though it's been nine months since Maqbool fled the camp, Greek policy has prevented him from completing an asylum application on the mainland, where he now lives as an illegal immigrant at risk of being arrested for overstaying his visa.
"In Haroon's case, you have a clear case of how the system is not working," Mr Chowdhry asserted.
BPCA is helping aid as many as seven Pakistani Christian asylum seekers who were found homeless on the Greek mainland by another charity and are accepting donations that will provide much-needed aid to homeless Christian refugees in Greece like Maqbool. If you would like to donate please (click here) for a range of payment options.
"The victims had no recognised status despite having fled Moria Camp due to persecution and bullying. These camps are severely under-policed and Christians were being told by the majority-holding Muslim asylum seekers that they were not allowed to hold worship services or pray to God," said Mr Chowdhry.
"Moreover through threats, intimidation and bullying attempts were being made to forcibly convert these Christians who had fled their homelands to be free of such oppression."
"To date many still have not been registered for asylum as they refuse to return back to Moria camp on Lesbos island, where they first entered Greece," he added.
Mr Chowdhry asserted that it's not just Moria camp where Christians are being persecuted, adding that many Christians flee from refugee camps on the Greek mainland also. He noticed during a visit to a refugee camp on the Greek mainland earlier this year that there was very little policing inside the camp.
In addition to the persecution, refugees face dire and inadequate conditionsinside the camps that force them to live in squalor. Moreover women complain of Sexual harassment and often fear even using the toilets in camps that are overwhelmed with men.
"Many just choose to be homeless on the mainland rather than return back and stay at those camps," Mr Chowdhry said. "Those camps are extremely terrifying. The camps that originally were set up by the UN to act as refugee processing facilities, have been transformed into prison-like detention centres, following the EU-Turkey deal.
Mr Chowdhry has been informed that UNHCR is compiling a list of cases like Maqbool's where asylum seekers are too frightened to return to island refugee camps to complete their asylum applications.
"We hope that that report will help redefine accepted mitigating factors for registration for escapees from asylum camps on the basis of religious persecution," Chowdhry said. "In the meanwhile, we have written to the Greek Ambassador to the U.K. and have asked him to intervene on behalf of Haroon Maqbool and other Pakistani Christians. We also request a similar "
More than 14,000 migrants remain stranded on Lesbos and other Greek islands near Turkey. They are banned from traveling to the Greek mainland following an agreement between the European Union and Turkey last year to limit migration to Europe.
The UN states that 2,171 refugees and migrants were reported dead or missing as they tried to cross the central Mediterranean in this year's first half, while many others are believed to have died trying to get to Libya.