Refugees in the Island of Lesvos

This is a translation of the post from January 28th, 2016

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This ferry will bring us to the island of Lesvos. Lesvos is the third biggest island in Greece and the seventh in the Mediterranean. About 86.000 people live on the island, which belongs to Greece since 1912, and thus to the European Union since 1981. At only between 6 and 10 kilometers of salty water and waves there’s the coast of Turkey.

The island, usually a touristic destination, is now famous due to the massive arrival of migrant refugees mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Half of all refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015, arrived through this island. That’s around 500.000 people. The figure is so big it’s hard to assimilate. In December 2015 about 3.300 people was arriving every day. In 2016 up until today, around 40.000 more people landed here.

On the island, many NGO’s but also volunteers from the island itself and from all around the world organize themselves in working groups in order to assist the refugees, which after the odyssey at the sea still have to reach the registration points, and plan the continuation of their journeys. The volunteers watch the beaches to ensure safe arrivals, provide dry clothes to the cold and wet arriving refugees, or cook warm meals for the days of waiting in the registration camps or the port.

But, why do the refugees cross the sea in such dangerous conditions? What are they fleeing of exactly? What do they expect to find in Europe or what did they hear? Can they help us understand the conflict they are fleeing of? What can we do from Europe to help them? Can the international implication really help Syria? Or will it only keep making it worse? If so, how? How many people will arrive still?

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Today (28.01.2016) I landed here. Μυτιλήνη. Mytilini for the friends. At the beginning of an experience during which I hope to grow while learning about one of the main crisis in the world today, and working to easy the symptoms on the innocent population, aporting my tiny bit of help.

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