GREECE REFLECTION: Poems from the Brink of Despair; powerful voices of refugees in detention of Moria


August 15 2017

GREECE REFLECTION: Poems from the Brink of Despair; powerful voices of refugees in detention of Moria

compiled by: Annelies Klinefelter

The camps near Mytilene (the capital of Greek Lesbos island) are filling up because of the steady influx of people — between fifty and a hundred each day. Because of this, Greek authorities opened a new camp in the north of the island where most refugees have been arriving. In an effort to counteract this influx the authorities arrange weekly deportations and send around 8-15 people back to Turkey against their will. There is no love for the European Union-Turkey deal here.

I talked with a number of refugees. They are desperate. One man was telling me about the growing numbers of self-inflicted mutilations and even suicides.

People come from all over the world to seek protection of the European Union: Iraq, Iran, Congo, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other places.

Tuesday 21 June, 2017 marked the commemoration of an International Refugee Day. On Lesbos, I participated in an event where the detained refugees from the Moria camp were allowed to speak. They read beautiful poems they had written that reflect their pains and send a powerful message to us all and the powers that be.

Lesvos Solidarity

Photo credit:

I don’t know where I come from,
But they call me refugee.
I’m imprisoned in Moria — deprived of my liberty.
There are men, women and children, all desperate,
Crying in unison: “We are prisoners.”

This ceremony is not enough to make me smile.
I long to be free, like Mohamed Ali in the ring,
The walls of Moria are the nightmares in my sleep.
UNHCR is aware; I’m saying nothing new.

To cross the borders of Moria, you have to be vulnerable.
Human Rights? No! Not for those who came here over the water.
A dozen people froze in Moria during the winter cold.
No guilty party. Only excuses. No justice. We are the uncivilized ones.

We want to register our names and file as refugees, but alas,
in the asylum office we are merely migrants. 

Proud to be vulnerable
When they talk about Hitler,
it’s not because he was good.
Look at UNHCR,
I will tell you what nobody knows.

In Moria, refugees are proud to be sick.
I broke my arm to get a medical certificate.

If you have been tortured you can sell yourself as vulnerable.
Being mentally ill is the price to pay for safe passage.
It’s easier for a sinner to enter paradise
than for a refugee to get asylum in Greece.

Why do you, all the guilty ones,
Want to teach us lessons in morality?
You prevent us from being happy.
Us, the brave ones.

A Dream
Dignified people cultivate love.
Racists spread hate.
Good people shake hands and invite.
Bad people close the borders and turn their backs.
I came to Greece, not for tourism,
But to ask for help.
To those who don’t like us,
I pray God does not listen to your prayers.

We come from everywhere
Looking to create a free and better world.
Like Martin Luther King Jr., I too had a dream.
In my dream I saw people, free from despair,
Black and white together in hope and faith,
Men and women with the same rights.
Go and tell the racists
that despite all the difficulties,
I am proud.

Moria Apocalypse
We survived the snow, we slept on the ground.
There were no exhibitions, no statements in the press.

My stay in Moria will never be a text from a novel.
Classify Moria as a sect if you talk about religion.

What upset you in this message? Did something?
I will paint you a picture of all my nightmares.
Don’t talk to me about all the crimes happening in Africa.
I’m asking you to talk about everything that’s going on in this island.

The stress,
The psychosis,
The mental routine.
Pain and desolation
Shroud the corridors in the hospital.

I thought Greece was a welcoming country,
But to get into the system here one must fit through the eye of a needle.

UNHCR is a thorn that digs into our wounds.
EASO is only an agency for discrimination in Greece.