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Migrants from Russia complain about terrible conditions in New York tent camps for refugees

'13.11.2023'

Alina Prikhodko

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Refugees from Russia on October 9 by application CBP One crossed the Mexican border and ended up in America. The girls arrived in New York and ended up at a distribution center at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. There they spent 3 days and 3 nights and slept right on the chairs.

The migrants were eventually given places in a tent camp; they now live on Randall Island. Muscovites Victoria Sokolova and Yulia Frolova told the channel about the terrible conditions in the tent camp on the island "The Bureau".

The girls said that upon arrival at the refugee camp, they were not given anything special. They had cots, thin blankets and nothing else. The first night they simply slept on things instead of a pillow and tried to cover themselves with a blanket, but it was very cold. The heating problem, according to the girls, is the main problem of the tent city.

A few days later, the Russians got hold of a warm blanket, but the weather outside suddenly became sub-zero and it was still very cold to sleep under a warm blanket in a jacket and thermal underwear.

Cold and Covid

When the emigrants arrived, they were asked if they had any symptoms. At that time, the girls had no symptoms, but a little later Yulia had a toothache, and she approached the staff for help. The center workers said that there were no doctors and advised us to go to the hospital.

“We didn’t have insurance yet, they said it would be free for us,” Victoria clarified. The Russian women came to the hospital, but they were told that they were not doing anything for free. They said that they themselves do not understand why migrants from the shelter are sent to them when there is no agreement on providing such assistance. In the refugee camp, this situation was not clarified for the girls. The employees replied that they do not pay for anything and can, at most, help the girls get insurance.

On the subject: Adams further limited migrants' access to free housing: what has changed

Even when Julia fell ill with Covid, no one asked anything. According to the girls, even the doctors’ table in the tent where he was was removed. Yulia had to find out on her own what kind of illness she had. When Covid was confirmed, the girls were amazed. “That is, I infected everyone here, there is no security at all,” said the emigrant.

Theft on the territory

Victoria's jacket was stolen in the first days. After this there were more thefts. “You’re always afraid for your things. Some people have their money stolen, others some kind of chargers. Anything can be stolen"

The girls said that the guard is on the premises only periodically. Sometimes he stays there for a couple of hours at night, sometimes he sits all night but sleeps, and sometimes he’s not there at all. The migrant camp warned that staff were not responsible for asylum seekers' belongings and told them to look after them themselves.

The conditions were not the best, but the girls were preparing for difficulties and understood that difficult tests awaited them. They were not prepared for Covid and the disease greatly affected their plans. Yulia and Victoria are going to apply for a work permit as soon as possible in order to move from the camp to rented housing. They were lucky that they had the starting capital to move and were able to provide themselves with medicine.

“Basically, we had money from Russia, not much. Plus, they provide food here, three meals a day: hot food in the evenings, and some muffins or sandwiches in the afternoon and morning,” said Victoria.

The girls believe that everything could be done better if the employees did their work responsibly. According to the girls, there is a generator in the camp, and the staff could provide heat. “It’s warm in their tent and very hot in the kitchen, where the dining room is. That is, they have the opportunity, so why not make everyone warm? It’s elementary to start with this and people will at least get sick less.”

On the subject: The New York City Council passed the Immigrant Labor Bill of Rights, guaranteeing fair wages and protections for immigrants.

The competence of employees also raises questions: “you ask some and they say one thing, but you ask others and they say something else.” The girls believe that employees should be trained and given up-to-date information so that communication with migrants is faster and more productive.

“Why do they hire absolutely incompetent employees when they are working with people. Okay, we’re still here, but there are a lot of disabled people here who don’t understand why they live on the island when there is a shelter in hotels with good conditions.”

Perhaps Russian women will again have to go to a distribution center for migrants, since according to the new rules, places in a refugee camp are given out only for a month.

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