Lesbos, Greece

“Lesvos has become a kind of limbo: a burning hot and filthy cauldron where refugees wait endlessly to be registered so as to leave the island and continue their onward journey.” (Source.)

lesbos
http://www.businessinsider.com/theres-chaos-on-a-greek-island-where-refugees-make-up-roughly-a-quarter-of-the-population-2015-9

In 2015 Lesbos was an island with a population of 86,000 people. In addition to that, 25,000 more people were refugees. That’s a lot for a small island!


Journey from Turkey

People around the world have to push on their governments to “make them stop the war on these countries.” 

Officials believe people pay at least 900 Euros per person to board boats in Turkey that will take them to Lesbos, but closer to 1500 Euros to go farther to the area near the airport. They board the boats alone with no guides from Turkey because a guide could be arrested once in Greece for smuggling refugees into the country. Many refugees have never even seen the ocean before getting on the boat. Once on Lesbos, refugees then begin a long mountainous walk (3-4hrs) from the beach to a bus stop. The buses take up to maybe 300-400 people each day, but are not enough for all the refugees – up to 1000 to 1500 per day. It’s an even longer walk from there for those who don’t wait for the bus to Mytilene, where the refugees have to register. Unfortunately, a big mess of life jackets is left on the beach before the refugees start their walk and the locals are left to pick it up.

Refugees come from Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

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Refugees without papers can’t be helped by taxi drivers. It is a crime to pick them up and you will be facing up to 10 years in jail for smuggling refugees. If you see anyone walking on the side of the road and have your own personal car, you have to call the police to report who you are picking up.

Humanitarian aid workers set up check points along the mountainous route to the buses.

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This organization from France is giving out shoes. Many of the refugees had no idea how far of a walk they would have, or that Lesbos was separated from Athens. Kids also received backpacks.

The entire video from 2015 about the trip from Turkey to Lesbos (26 minutes):


Lesvos Solidarity
Source 1 Source 2 Source 3

Formally known as Pikpa Camp, Lesvos Solidarity opened in 2012 and hosts the most vulnerable refugees: families, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. It is entirely run by volunteers. The small camp (at most 600 people) is made of tents and wooden buildings. It offers language classes for adults and education to children, food, clothing, and medical assistance. Refugees can stay here for as long as they need.


EU/Turkey Agreement
Source 1 Source 2

Kara Tepe, Afghan Hills, Moria… these refugee camps all used to be decent temporary transit points for refugees continuing to elsewhere in Europe or another part of Greece. But now after an agreement between the EU and Turkey, anyone who came to Lesbos illegally by boat after March 20, 2016, are subject to deportation. In exchange, the EU will give 6 billion Euros to help with refugees in Turkey and European visas to Turks. The people living there describe it as a prison. Doctors Without Borders completely pulled out of Greece and many others stopped or limited their programs, such as UNHCR, because they do not want to be affiliated with a refugee deportation facility. However since these organizations left, they took took all the basics and necessities people need with them.

The new process in Greece of applying for asylum can take a long time, much longer than the one week refugees were used to before the agreement. What was once thousands of refugees arriving each day has dropped to under 100.


Concerns

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  • September 20, 2016: 9 were arrested after a fire was started, either due to a riot or a fight over food. (Source.)
  • November 25, 2016: A woman and a child died in a gas explosion. Camp then set on fire by angry migrants. (Source.)
  • January 11, 2017: “First it was the icy snow. Now comes the freezing rain.” (Source.)
  • January 30, 2017: 3 deaths reported, possibly due to harsh winter conditions. 3000 refugees are living in the Moria camp. (Source.)

More on refugees: https://americaforyemen.wordpress.com/category/refugees/

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