Lesvos Update

07/11/2015

Refugee arrivals haven’t stopped for one single day. The combined efforts of the Greek coast guard and Frontex have once more not been able (against all odds – rough weather and worn-out dinghies and boats) to deter more deaths in the Aegean. Another shipwreck (4/11/2015) near Sykamia claimed five lives (three children and two adult men) and that’s only as far as the Lesvos region is considered. The reception of refugees on the island is depending solely on the efforts of locals and NGOs. The situation in the camp (hot-spot) of Moria remains dreadful while thousand of refugees having to sleep on the streets around the harbour under heavy rain and low temperatures.

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In Mytilene, Saturday 31/10/2015 a comparatively massive demonstration was organized in the face of the recent death toll. The demonstration occupied the main street of the city and joined refugee groups waiting for the boat to Athens at the harbor. Demonstrators, both locals and refugees stood in unison in favour for safe and legal passage for those that seek to flee from war and poverty. A key point of the demonstration was the imperative need for the demolition of the fence, set up by the previous government, in Evros, that closed off a relatively safe land passage for the refugees.

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The arrival of the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz in Lesvos was met with various demonstrations and the occupation of public buildings -such as the Old Mayor Office. The mayor of the island, Spyros Galinos had just before the arrival proclaimed a three-day mourning and arranged for a common Orthodox and Islamic prayer in honour of the dead in front of the Asia-Minor “Mother Refugee” statue in Epano Skala – an initiative with extremely condensed pro-tolerance and peace symbolisms.

George Tyrikos-Ergas

 

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