Thursday, 10 September 2015
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
The single tap in tent city, catering for over 1000 people (there is no toilet - there is one toilet in the port police yard, but access is restricted)
The Guardian posted a video of the Leros crisis a couple of weeks ago (http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/aug/18/greek-island-leros-europe-migrant-crisis-video) with some dreadful comments posted by Daily Mail readers.
Wednesday 2nd September
Thursday 3rd September
|Camping in the port police yard|
Friday 4 September
Saturday 5th September
Our friends report that there is a real problem knowing how many people are coming when, so that we can have food and drinks ready for them. Either the Port Police don’t know or they won’t say. It is so chaotic that it is probably the former.
Wednesday September 9th
She will give the first concert this Sunday with guest artists and the proceeds going towards Doctors without Frontiers who have been helping in Leros, and the second Sunday’s concert with Mary Black who is a huge music legend here in Ireland will give the proceeds to Leros; tickets already sold out! Thanks from all the volunteers here to Mary Coughlan and Mary Black for their wonderful kind gesture and for Patrick for highlighting the plight of the refugees in Leros.”
Thursday 10 September
Friday 11 September
Saturday 12th September
Sunday 13th September
After dinner we went to see many of our friends off on the ferry to Athens. It was a moment of great joy as we kissed and embraced them and wished them luck. There are so many such lovely people it is outrageous what they have to go through to find a place to live in peace.
Monday 14th September - Saturday 19 SeptemberWe left Lakki on Monday morning to go up to Arkhangelos, ready to lift the boat out in the yard at Partheni, but Julie has kept us all informed through her Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/julie.peakman/posts/1135926509768567
On Monday and Tuesday the volunteers bought shoes and clothes for all the survivors of the tragedy. There is a big question mark over why the coastguard took three hours to reach the survivors. Some of the latter said they were shouting and shining torches and laser pointers towards the shore. At one stage they saw the military on the shore just looking at them, but doing nothing to help those in the water or those who had made it to the rocks.
On Wednesday the refugees were taken to Rhodes, where the bodies had been landed, to identify their loved ones, though the Greek press reported that seven of the survivors had been arrested as suspected people smugglers and taken to Kos. Nobody seems to know what will happen to them next, though there are rumours that they will be flown to wherever they want their bodies buried.
Ana, of UNHCR, stressed to all the volunteers that they must not talk to the press or post anything about the tragedy on social media. She is obsessed with the idea that everybody must speak with a single voice, i.e. hers, even though she is never there when it matters and knows nothing about what is going on. All the refugees we have spoken to want as much publicity for their plight as possible.
The situation has been more manageable this week, with around 100 arriving each day and refugees regularly leaving on the ferries to Piraeus. Although they buy full price tickets (and sometimes double price for first class tickets when all the regular fare tickets have gone), apparently the refugees are not allowed in the saloons on the Blue Star ferried but have to stay outside on deck for the nine-hour overnight crossing to Piraeus. There is very little deck space so no doubt many have to stand.
On Thursday some of the volunteers met for dinner, because quite a few are leaving this week. As some leave, new volunteers arrive, but if the flow continues into November there will be few foreign visitors left, so the whole burden will fall on Matina, Anne and the permanent local residents.
We fly to Athens on Saturday morning, just in time for the election on Sunday, and back to Birmingham via Copenhagen on Monday.