Our first encounters with Suhel were through Facebook. He was documenting how refugees are forced to live in Vial and wanted to publicly expose the degrading treatment and living conditions in this camp.
In the middle of nowhere, some 20 kilometres away from the town of Chios, Vial is an old dilapidated aluminium factory that now serves as the EU ‘hotspot’ where refugees are fingerprinted, registered, and interviewed for their asylum application, and where several hundred live in isobox containers. Surrounded by barbed-wire, Vial is a military-run camp that outsiders, including volunteers, cannot access.
We drove there and sat with Suhel outside the camp. It’s hard to tell from his ceaseless optimism and energy that he has been stuck on this island for a year. During this time, he would take the bus every morning from Vial to Souda camp to be part of the everyday volunteer-refugee encounters, a way to retain some sense of normalcy and dignity in an otherwise inhumane context.
Suhel is now in Athens, living in a squat, waiting.