From mid 2017 until the year 2022, RBB was involved in supporting people living in the Unofficial Lavario Camps. The camps became known amongst volunteers as:
- Lavrio 1 – Kurdish Camp (Abandoned School)
- Lavrio 2 – Kurdish Camp (Containers)
- Lavrio Afghan Camp
By the time RBB started their support within these camps, all International NGOs and any governmental / military support had long gone, therefore leaving the people residing there increasingly vulnerable. The camps were one and half hours drive via car from central Athens so we can imagine how long it would take people to get to the centre to be able to access services or even buy food supplies on buses, which were limited and took hours, walking not possible.
It is known that the abandoned building camp had been there for 25+ years and with an escalation of the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe as more Kurdish Syrians fled into Greece for sanctuary, becoming homeless in central Athens or unable to access other camps and support, they two joined their community here for shelter, eventually a container camp also being made to accommodate the large number of people and the numbers of Afghan people in the second abandoned building also increased.
Essentially, these camps were squats in a far away, hidden, picturesque port village, and what little supplies they could buy were overpriced, with most people being outside of the system for any governmental support.
These camps were known to host up to 800 people at it’s height within little living spaces that tents were put up with averaging around 400-500 people, and consisted of majority families with children, as well as a smaller number of single people. These camps were self managed by a camp committee and they supported our work to distribute equitable provisions to all there.
RBB’s support here consisted of providing food items, hygiene products, clothes, shoes, winter aid, baby nappies / diapers, to organising morale boosting art activities, women’s spaces and cinema nights. The people who resided there were welcoming and they also invited us to their Kurdish celebrations and on other occasions cooked for us, which we were honoured to be invited to.
Over the years our support varied from regular support every two weeks, with aid drops to every few months, as awareness rose and other volunteer groups and NGOs also started supporting there, to eventually only supporting a few times a year as and when the people called us for support. Having built trust over the years, now, and with people who we have known since 2017 still there, they will only contact us for support in emergencies, or when there are necessary gaps in other aid provisions.