Arriving on Lesvos to distribute fishing equipment this week we could not know what would await us.
There had been a flare up between locals and police over the building of the new closed prison camp on the island to house new arrivals, but as we made the ferry trip from the main land to Lesvos, Turkey decided to open the borders to Greece and to call off the coast guard’s stopping boats leaving turkey for the Greek island. The resulting mass influx of refugees from camps to the Greek land boarder was huge, reminiscent of the Idomini camp at the Greek macidonian border 3 years ago. Footage is emerging of confrontation between people desperate to enter Europe pushing thru razor wire fences while Greek police beat them with truntions, tear gas falling on families with young children, and even 1 report of a Syrian man shot dead with live ammo.
On Lesvos the mayor has segregated the island into east and west to stop refugees arriving in the east being brought to the only camp where they can start their asylum process , #moria camp. Volunteers cars have been smashed including those of doctors who work at the camp, leading to a halt of NGOs working in the camp until the situation calms. Yesterday there was the well documented case of a boat of 47 people including 18 children being attacked at sea by a masked group of vigilantes in a speed boat. They broke the engine and left them to drift. The next day, the Greek coast guard vessel was filmed fending the refugee boat AWAY from them, and shots being fired into the water around the dingy.
We have put a halt on distribution of equipment as we cannot contact any of our link here and are focusing on dissemination of media on the situation while all we can really do it stay inside and stay safe from vigilantes searching the islands for volunteers to harass.
Words cannot describe the disgust we feelings, as people here to help those fleeing war, we go through when forced to sit idle due to right wing idiots empowered by the rise in right wing politics and hate speech in the western media over the last year’s.