Reflections- From the Crew



Years after the refugee crisis in Europe became front page news, it saddens me to see that the situation here in Lesvos is still just as bad, if not worse for the people fleeing war torn countries and persecution. The lack of respect for international and maritime law and the numerous human rights violations that we see at this European border demonstrate that Europe has failed to respect the rights of people. The European Union was set up after WWII with the aim to unite European nations after extreme nationalism had divided the continent. We see the deterioration of this unity as the rest of Europe turns a blind eye to the situation here in Greece and the victims of this are the innocent men, women and children that have left everything they know for safety and protection in Europe. Instead, they are faced with racism, lack of dignity and violations of their human rights. This is not the Europe they dreamed of and it’s not the Europe that I feel proud to be a part of. I was lucky enough to be born in a safe country where I know my rights and I know they will be respected but I would hope that if I ever needed to flee for my life I would be welcomed and respected as after all, we are all human beings, the same, no matter of our nationality, the colour of our skin or our religion.


Three days of snow, thousands of people battling the icy camp conditions, and one tragic death. This is the reality of the last week here on Lesvos, a reality that cannot be separated from Europe’s hostility to those seeking safety at our borders. In the early hours of this morning, a boat full of people landed in south-east Lesvos in freezing temperatures. But one man died before they could be rescued - a tragic and avoidable loss. This dangerous crossing has become increasingly treacherous, with the pandemic and other factors placing limitations on search and rescue capacity. Safe passage must be prioritised; it is not a luxury, but an essential right. Those who were rescued from the rocks this morning by HCG will eventually end up in the freezing, wet camp, where 7,500 other people are currently living. The electricity is sporadic, and heaters are a distant dream. As sources inside the camp have said, it is impossible to keep anything dry. It is only January: two months of cold temperatures, with no protection, must be endured by camp residents before spring arrives. But it is not the cold itself that is the problem, nor the sea. If Europe started taking its responsibility to uphold human rights seriously, asylum-seekers could be looking out at the snow from a warm building as they wait for their claim to be processed. As a rights-focused NGO, we believe it is important to continue monitoring this contested border and holding Europe to the values it claims to be founded upon.
Tigs and Giulia


Another tragedy in the Aegean. A young boy was found dead in an inaccessible area at Cape Praso in Samos, with the Greek authorities arresting his father on suspicion of endangering his son's life. According to the port authorities, they were informed early in the morning about the existence of refugees in the wider area. Officers went to the spot, while vessels launched to conduct a SAR operation. Ten people were found at Cape Praso, while a few hours later, in an extremely inaccessible area, the woman and the body of the boy were found. More people were later located on land. According to the rescued, approximately 25 people were on board. It remains unclear if people are still missing. The 25-year-old father who just lost his 6-year old son, has been arrested on suspicion of endangering his son’s life, which can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. For once more, authorities are showing power, using any chance they have to attack the right to seek asylum, this time to a grieving father.


Today, Memorial Day of 2015 when a refugee boat sank taking with it more than 70 human beings. Our rescue boat is still ready to operate, because no one should die at sea, while seeking a better life. “It’s been five years since the big shipwreck off the coast of Lesvos, when more than 70 people lost their lives in an attempt to overcome fortress Europe. On this sad day, we remember their deaths and feel angered to realise not much has changed. Yes, there’ve been fewer arrivals the last months, but this has been the result of ever more militarizing of the borders. It is known that when one route becomes harder, people are forced onto routes that are even more perilous. This is not a solution but the recipe for the next disaster. Only open borders and freedom of movement can end the deaths at sea, and the horrible conditions in the camps at the borders of Europe.”


“I'm looking at the beautiful and calm sea north of the island Lesvos. In sight, but still invisible runs the European outer border, a man-made line through the water. Today my thoughts are with the many that lost their lives here five years ago. As well as with their beloved ones for whom this border took a family member, a child, a friend, a lover.”


Today we commemorate the death of Alan Kurdi, the boy who lost his life trying to cross from Turkey to Greece in 2015. Alan Kurdi’s death is a tragic reminder of the price countless children pay to seek safety in Europe. Since then, as far as we know, almost 1000 children have drowned in the Mediterranean, and more than 200,000 unaccompanied minors sought asylum in Europe. Every child trying to reach Europe has a story, many of them of brutal violence and abuse, of searching for safety and a better life. Most of these children come from Syria, where half of the country’s eight million children have known only war, or Afghanistan, where children comprise over than 30 per cent of total casualties.

September 2021

Six years ago, on October 25th, 2015, approximately 2,500 refugees left the island of Lesvos on a ferry the government hired to enable people to live in human conditions and continue their trip to their destinations. We distributed food on the lines. Today, European policies are building new camps for human beings asking for their obvious rights under the European Convention of Human Rights. We need our humanity back.

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