Prince­ton stu­dents cap­ture footage of Mo­ria camp riot

Led by Pro­fes­sor Joe Stephens, the bud­ding jour­nal­ists were on Lesvos when trou­ble erupted

Kathimerini English - - Focus -

Three weeks ago, stu­dent jour­nal­ists from the US’s Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity be­gan vis­it­ing mi­gra­tion camps and in­ter­view­ing res­i­dents about their new lives in Greece. On Mon­day af­ter­noon, they were work­ing on the is­land of Lesvos out­side the camp at Mo­ria when they heard an ex­plo­sion. More fol­lowed, as did flames and an im­mense plume of black smoke. In the dis­tance, they saw mi­grants in­side the camp throw­ing stones. Then hun­dreds of mi­grants be­gan pour­ing out of the camp. At least two col­lapsed in the street and were car­ried away for treat­ment.

The stu­dents, en­rolled in a jour­nal­ism class on global re­port­ing led by Fer­ris Pro­fes­sor of Jour­nal­ism Joe Stephens, re­al­ized they were the only re­porters at the scene and sprang into ac­tion by video­tap­ing, shoot­ing pho­to­graphs and con­duct­ing in­ter­views. They asked flee­ing mi­grants to share im­ages from within the in­flamed camp.

Over pre­vi­ous days, res­i­dents of the Mo­ria camp had com­plained in in­ter­views about what they de­scribed as bad food, crowded con­di­tions, vi­o­lence at night and their in­abil­ity to plan their futures be­cause of their in­de­ter­mi­nate sta­tus in Greece. Some res­i­dents re­port­edly lacked med­i­ca­tion and were sleep­ing on the ground.

As the riot roiled, some mi­grants told the stu­dents that res­i­dents set the blaze to protest the dis­mal con- di­tions and the slug­gish asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion process. One claimed that ten­sions erupted be­tween res­i­dents and the non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion Euro Re­lief.

“They burned the camp be­cause (au­thor­i­ties) don’t want to let peo­ple” leave, Dan­deen Ma­toko, a mi­grant from the Congo who has lived in Mo­ria for eight months, said in a video­taped in­ter­view as the riot raged in the back­ground.

“Peo­ple are suf­fer­ing,” Dan­deen said. “They are giv­ing us dry rice. No meat, no soup. How can you sur­vive? Back there [at the camp] it’s so dif­fi­cult that we can’t re­ally stand it. Peo­ple are so tired of this place, they don’t want to live,” he said.

At one point, a squad of uni­formed men bear­ing clear riot shields marched into the camp. Fire trucks ap­proached the gates of the camp, which is cir­cled by coiled ra­zor wire, but did not en­ter. One mi­grant col­lapsed just out­side the gate and oth­ers splashed her face with wa­ter. A man groaned on the ground be­fore be­ing car­ried away down a two-lane ac­cess road.

The camp houses more than 3,000 refugees, well be­yond the ca­pac­ity it was built to hold.

The Prince­ton jour­nal­ists on the scene were Talya Nevins, Alice Maiden and Jack Lohmann. Their work was sup­ported by stu­dent jour­nal­ists Ethan Steren­feld, Chiara Fi­carelli and Andie Alaya, who helped with re­port­ing and edit­ing.

Their work at Mo­ria was un­der­writ­ten by Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity’s Global Re­port­ing ini­tia­tive, un­der the di­rec­tion of Pro­fes­sor Stephens, a vet­eran in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter for The Wash­ing­ton Post. Stu­dents will be re­port­ing in Greece for two more weeks, and their work will be pub­lished at com­mons.prince­ton.edu/glob­al­re­port­ing2017.

As the riot roiled, some mi­grants told the stu­dents that res­i­dents set the blaze to protest the dis­mal con­di­tions and the slug­gish asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion process. Alice Maiden (top) and Talya Nevins (bot­tom) caught some dra­matic shots from the events.

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