Adaar in her tent at Kalochori camp.
Adaar* is 17 years old. She is nine months pregnant with her first child. Because she is a minor she and her husband have been split up and are living in separate tents at the refugee camp in the former S.K. Market in Kalochori, Greece. His interview to seek asylum is separate from hers, which means they end up in different cities or even different countries.
Adaar lives in a tent with her mother and her three brothers. Her father disappeared a few months ago. He had gone to Thessaloniki to buy groceries from the market and never returned. They finally received a phone call from him, when they learned that he had been arrested by the police and interviewed for hours that day he went to the market. They tore up his refugee card, took away his mobile phone and forced him across the border back to Turkey. Sadly, his story is that of many.
There is a lot of uncertainty in Adaar's life. Not only does her husband have a different date for his asylum interview but so do two of her brothers, including the youngest, who is only eight years old and suffers from epilepsy.
“He used to go into fits,” Adaar says. “People at the camp were getting very angry at us because they didn't understand what was happening.” Greek doctors eventually diagnosed him with epilepsy and told the family that he needed to live in a quiet place because life among the crowds and chaos of a refugee camp increases his stress levels, which triggers seizures. Adaar and her mother took the papers to the camp's management but were told this was not their problem. So they remain in their flimsy tent that exposes them to the elements in the midst of a crowded camp.
“When we left Syria we were hoping to go to Germany,” says Adaar. “But now we just want to get out of this place. If we can move to a more quiet place we will stay here and wait for asylum. But if we have to remain in the camp we would rather return to Turkey.” For now, her brother is under constant sedation prescribed by the doctors to prevent him from seizing.
Adaar is always worrying about her baby's future. “Winter is coming,” she says. “The baby can't live in this tent. There will be no protection from the cold, the wind and the rain.”
The family are scared about being torn apart and have been given no information or reassurances about their future. If Adaar is relocated to another country, what about her husband? What about her father? What about her little brother? It is a heavy burden to bear for someone so young. Sadly, there are many other young women like her at Kalochori.
* Name changed and face blurred to protect the identity of a minor.
** Adaar's baby was born two days after this interview. At the hospital, she was not allowed to have anyone by her side during the delivery. There was no translator and her grandmother as well as NPI staff were physically removed from the room. She underwent a forced episiotomy. After giving birth, she was not allowed to breastfeed. The baby was taken from her and bottle fed without consent.
Adaar with NPI volunteer midwife Jess.
Adaar's UNHCR White Card.