- Evangelos Tsirmpas
KIFA Drama: Solidarity, the key to a healthy society
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty
During the last weeks, we have been presenting a number of organizations that have emerged in solidarity with the immigrants and refugees arriving in Europe. Despite the existence of basic differences among them, in terms of practical and theoretical issues, their common component was solidarity. Solidarity that, contrary to charity, respects and empathizes with the Other. Solidarity that, instead of showing off in the news, is working silently and persistently. Solidarity that, rather than presenting the human face of barbarism, is deeply conscious about the reasons behind immigrants' and refugees' existence and is struggling against them.
As we analyzed in the first part of this series of articles, self-organized solidarity movements are dynamic social cells, living organisms that are being constantly developed in interaction with the society. This week, closing this cycle of article series, we are presenting a perfect example of that: Solidarity Community Clinic – Pharmacy of Drama (KIFA). While KIFA was created in the middle of the economic crisis that is still torturing Greece, it has been continuously growing and developing in order to cope with the needs generated by the refugee crisis. Since 2012 until nowadays, it has been practically supporting countless people with the most valuable good of health and at the same time giving a strong social and political struggle. We discussed one of its members, who provided us of further information on KIFA's creation and development, as well as on the current situation related to the refugee crisis in northern Greece.
2 years of solidarity, self-organization, resistance
Evangelos Tsirmpas: How did you conceive the idea for the foundation of the Solidarity Community Clinic-Pharmacy (KIFA) and how did you realize it? On which basis does the Clinic operate?
KIFA: KIFA was created in Drama four years ago, in February 2012. The need for its creation initially occurred due to the tragic situation that was being formed in the healthcare sector and especially due to the division of people into uninsured and insured, leading to the exclusion of the latter from the free public healthcare. Besides the medical part, our initial goal as KIFA is to encourage the activation, the organization and the collective action of the citizens in order to defend their rights and set the basis for the future of the society.
Against bureaucracy and fake philanthropy, we create KIFA
E.T.: Which is the medical treatment provided by the National Health System to the refugees arriving in our country?
KIFA: Under article 33 of the recent Greek law 4368/21-2-2016, full healthcare is provided to all refugees on Greek territory. In the refugee camp in Drama, primary care is provided by the doctors in the city, according to a program which is drawn up by the local medical association, while secondary care is provided by the city's hospital.
Idomeni: Collecting commodities for the next mission
E.T.: What is the general situation in Northern Greece right now, as far as the refugees arrival is concerned, and what are your own experiences from the concentration camp in Paranesti, Drama?
KIFA: In Greece, exactly like in the rest of the world as well, the public dialogue is defined by the polarization between people and groups of people with nationalist, racist, fascist and islamophobic beliefs ("We should help the Greeks first", "Why don't they stay in their own country?", "The country will become full of terrorists", "Take them in your homes" etc.) and those who consider it to be their moral obligation to show solidarity with the people who had to deal with the suffering of war, were forced to leave their countries and enter a boat with the hope of a better future. At the same time, along with any chance and aspect of our actions, we try to show that solidarity with the refugees and immigrants is not a solution per se, if it's not combined with a struggle against the causes of the wars, against the interests of the capital, the arms industry, the raiding of national resources and all that, that people pay with the ultimate price – their own lives.
Port of Kavala: Distribution of the gathered commodities to the refugees every Wednesday and Saturday
E.T.: In which ways is your solidarity with the refugees expressed?
KIFA: Our solidarity is expressed through our permanent presence everywhere needed. We have been several times to Idomeni, Paranesti, Evros, Xanthi and elsewhere, either in order to transfer medical equipment and commodities or in order to participate in concentrations that demand the closure of the concentration camps, against Evros fence etc. For four months, we have been every Wednesday and Saturday in the port of Kavala, in order to welcome the refugees and immigrants arriving from Lesvos and provide them of clothing and food for the continuation of their journey.