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“A life without freedom is not a life” - Life in the closed controlled access centre in Samos

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I. INTRODUCTION

Eight months have passed since the opening of the first ‘Closed Controlled Access Centre’ [1] (CCAC) on the Greek island of Samos. The construction of the Samos CCAC and four other similar facilities on the five Aegean islands (Samos, Chios, Kos, Leros, and Lesvos) was agreed upon by European and Greek authorities and fully financed by the European Commission.
In December 2021, our first report “All I Want Is To Be Free And Leave” unveiled that life in the CCAC is tantamount to life in prison.
Despite assurances by both European and Greek authorities that the new centre would represent an improvement in living conditions and a safe environment for its residents, the testimonies of people forced to live in the prison-like facility revealed instead limited or no access to basic services, constant surveillance and extreme restrictions on the residents’ freedom of movement.
Today, we believe it is time for a second reality check. The Samos CCAC remains surrounded by barbed wire, monitored by 24/7 CCTV surveillance and residents have to undergo security checks every time they enter and exit the camp. The camp hosts 372 people as of May 2022 making up 18% of the facility’s total capacity of 2040 [2].
Despite the population being nowhere near the total capacity, the residents have experienced extended periods of water and electricity shortage as well as lack of access to primary healthcare.
This report, following up on the previous one, aims to highlight ongoing issues and the daily reality of the people living in the Samos CCAC by focusing on the personal experiences and perspectives of camp residents. Between January and April 2022, a number of semistructured interviews were conducted with residents of the facility as well as with people living in the town of Samos. Not only do the direct accounts of people confirm and complement the testimonies collected in 2021, but they uncover new severe restrictions and rights violations taking place in the EU-funded facility.