After the press-conference on February 1 and our information about refugee camp in our office on the internet, many people expressed their willingness to provide refugees staying at our office with money, clothes and food products. Representatives of “Doctors Without Borders”, Dutch branch brought over some medicine, sleeping-bags and rags for sleeping on.
Mass media was extremely interested in the situation in our organization (See below the incomplete list of publications.) The publications of mass media got Copts’ cases moving at FMS, Moscow. They were called to FMS in small groups and went into the procedure for recognition of refugee status. At the same time they got the opportunity to pass on application for being referred to a Temporary Accommodation Centre (TAC). So now they just have to wait for MS decision on referral to the Centre.
Nevertheless the number of refugees who stay at our office is not decreasing but increasing. Besides 11 Egyptian Copts who were mentioned by mass media, we have here an elderly handicapped refugee from Iraq and a very young Sudanese from Darfur, where a bloody armed conflict has been lasting for several years, as well as a young Palestinian from Libya who escaped during the recent civil war. The latter came to our office late at night after the reception time and refused to leave. We were upset that a young man instead of sharing his situation with us during the reception and asking for help confronted us with a fait accompli. We tried to persuade him to leave and gave him some money to be able to stay somewhere overnight. But he refused to leave. Then reluctantly we had to call the police. Policemen took our uncooperative visitor out and we started to leave the office. Yet it is not the end of the story. One of our employees met the Palestinian on her way home: the policemen released him and he was going back to the office in a very agitated state. So our colleague felt sorry for him when she imagined one of her sons in his place and took him to her place overnight. When the young man realized that she was taking him to her place he burst into tears: it was found out that he hadn’t been eating anything for three days and stayed overnight anywhere. Next day he joined refugees at our office so that there were 14 people altogether there. If it continues like that soon there will be no space for work.
At the end of last week another family was about being placed into our office – a husband, a wife who is ill and two small children from Syria. The story of this family is very dramatic. A mediator for a lot of money promised to take them to Europe. For a long time they were driven in a delivery truck hidden behind boxes with some goods. Probably somewhere near Moscow they were moved to a smaller car. In Moscow the driver stopped by McDonalds and invited them inside for a meal. As soon as they climb out of the body the car suddenly darted off and left. So the family without knowing a word of Russian was left in an unknown country, without things, money and documents. With great difficulty and with help of kind people the family approached UNHCR and later them came to us. This happened in November last year.
At the beginning of December Syrians applied to MS, Moscow Region for recognition as refugee. They had to stay with some people, then with some other people, who were agreed to host them. That is why at the same time with applying for refugee status they filled the application about being referred to TAC. Our employee nearly every day was inquiring MS about an answer from FMS, RF to their application. The answer was given only after New Year holidays though there was no possibility to send them to TAC: MS hasn’t got money for travelling. We didn’t have money either. Finally, people collected money for the tickets and on February 7 they came to MS, Moscow region planning to obtain referral papers and leave at the same day because there was no place for them to stay.
However, MS told them that they could not refer them to TAC, because there was a decision made to refuse them refugee status. When the paper on the refusal is signed they could if they want to apply for temporary asylum (humanitarian status) and after obtaining the suitable documents they can go to TAC but it could happen not earlier than in a week. We were calling to MS, tried to persuade A.I.Muraviev, head of refugee department, to refer this family to TAC immediately because they had no place to stay overnight and from TAC they could apply the refusal of refugee status or apply for temporary asylum, but it all was in vain. Alexander Ivanovich remained adamant and casually mentioned: “We are not responsible for accommodation”. We had to approach his leaders in FMS, Russia and only after this involvement the process of sending this family to the Centre was sped up and maybe tomorrow (after two months of waiting) they will go to Permsky kray.
The following is the incomplete list of publications on the refugee camp at our office.