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Memorial 24th of April 2018

Foto: Marily Stroux

On 24 of April 2018 one year had passed since 22 people among them two children lost their lives in the boat accident north of Lesvos. Rescue teams managed many hours later to rescue two women alive, one of them pregnant in the 8th month.

Sylvie and Joelle and the little girl Victoria, born in Mitilini just one month later, came again to Lesvos to remember this year. Together with the rescue teams of Refugee Rescue / Mo chara and with the activists from Watch the Med Alarm Phone and Welcome to Europe they returned to the place the rescued women and also the dead bodies had been brought one year ago.


Foto: Marily Stroux

Also the spotting teams who still care every night at the beaches to spot boats on the way from the Turkish to the Greek side, Lighthouse relief and The Hope Project, joined the invitation to the three women.

On 22nd of April we travelled with the survivors on the ferry to Lesvos. At the ships restaurant we introduced them and their story to the crew who have been really touched to have survivors on board.

During our dinner officers of the crew came at the entrance of the restaurant obviously to see with their own eyes the survivors. We got very positive wishes from the crew for the future and an appreciation for making a memorial.


Foto: Marily Stroux

We all met in the morning of 24th of April in Skala Sikaminias. The rhib of Refugee Rescue, Mo Chara, drove out with a floral wreath to put it in the sea exactly at the place where the women have been found and the dead bodies collected.

In the meantime all people went to the beach and enrolled a 30 metres long list of all known names of people who died in the European borders the last years. 33.305 names, 33.305 stories, 33.305 deaths that should never have happened.


Foto: Marily Stroux

The following text was read in Greek and English and then Joelle sang a song of her home-country that she was singing in the sea while trying to keep up the hope to be rescued.


Sylvie made a prayer to thank god for giving them a new life.

After we had a minute of silence to remember the 22 dead travellers.

Returning to Skala Sikaminias promising to ourselves not to give up supporting the newcomers and continue rescuing.


Foto: Marily Stroux

It is now 8 years ago, that we from Welcome to Europe made the first memorial for dead Afghan people in Korakas, thanking the fishermen for rescuing a baby and her parents that day.


Since then many more people arrived on Lesvos and the other islands oft the Aegean. But also many died and never arrived to their dream. In Europe they wish to find peace and a respectful life.


The fisherman continue to rescue – but there are also the rescue and spotting teams to support and work together now. As long as the European borders remain closed and militarised, the only option for fleeing people will be to risk their lives and we all have to be there for them.

One week later we returned to Piraeus with the same ferry and hand over in the bord-restaurant the memorial speech from Skala Sikaminias to one of the crew members we know. He thanks and disappears and returns some time later. He says he read it loud in the kitchen and everyone was crying and that they all thank us for doing it. Even he adds the people from the second bord-restaurant called him to read it also to them.


Memorial speech Skala Sikaminias

24 April 2018

Today, we come together here in Skala Sikaminias to remember the dead of the European borders.

Foto: Marily Stroux

We come here together with Joelle, Sylvie and Victoria. They survived when their boat sank in the North of this island on 23rd of April 2017. In the many hours that they spent in the sea, before they were rescued, they both asked themselves where the others had disappeared.

22 travelers did not survive that day, among them 2 Syrian children, and were later collected by the authorities’ vessels and the rescue teams.

Only one month later, Joelle gave birth to Victoria here in Mitilini – and this little girl reminds us that life continues.

Foto: Marily Stroux

Still, every year the dying continues due to the Europe’s border regime. And every year we renew the promise to remember those who have died. We will work to ensure safe passage until the deaths at Europe’s borders stop.


Because it has not stopped – even though many of us have tried hard. In 2018, to this day, more than 559 people have been killed in the Mediterranean Sea. We have been in touch with many people who have survived shipwrecks – as well as people who have given testimonies of death on the routes, before people even reach the sea.

Today, we are here together with people who still have eyes on the water, spotting. People who are still on the sea, with Search and Rescue boats. People who were fishermen and became rescuers, who had to take the dead bodies from the sea. People who started a hotline for open communication, to try avoid all these deaths. People who held the relatives and friends of the drowned after they discovered the loss. People who shared parts of the way with the survivors.


Foto: Marily Stroux

All of us have not shut our eyes. We remember and we won’t forget.
We all feel shame, because these deaths highlight our failure in our attempt to stop this murderous regime and to create a welcoming Europe.

We remember our friends, whose lives were lost after they had managed to escape war, after they risked death when crossing one border after the other clandestinely, and after finally reaching Europe.

Here and today, we want to stop for a moment and create a space for all those who lost their lives. Remembering here means we save the stories of the uncounted who died at the borders of Europe. They died in the sea, they died at the deadly inner-European borders.

Foto: Marily Stroux

They had left their homes to change their lives. Their death is a death in search for freedom. And that concerns us all.


There have been, and will be, many more names and many more stories.

We will never forget all of them and today we want to remember especially the friends of Joelle and Sylvie.
We will remember them. All of them have families and friends they left behind – who cannot be here with us, because these borders separate them even now.

So let us speak out their names:

– Maman Nicole – she lives!
– Chochou – she lives!
– Gilaine – she lives!
– Sylvia – she lives!
– Tedy – he lives!
– Fati – he lives!
– Mali – he lives!
– Pider – he lives!
– Peter – he lives!
– Junior – he lives!
– The Syrian family with two children – they live!
– And the unidentified other 8 travellers that lost their lives in that boat – they live!

We will never forget them.
We promise to do our best to tear down the borders that caused their deaths.
We invite you to have a quiet moment in memory of them – and then to move on: to tear down the borders and to build a new, more welcoming Europe.

Refugee Rescue – Lighthouse Relief – The hope project – w2eu – Watch the Med Alarmphone


Memorial text in Greek: Μνημόσυνο 24.4. 2018-Greek

Memorial text in French: Memorial speech Skala Sikaminias-français

Video of the memorial ceremony:


Foto: Marily Stroux

Μνημόσυνο στη Θερμή Λέσβος 25 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Σήμερα το απόγευμα 50 περίπου άνθρωποι συγκεντρωθήκαμε στον κόλπο της Θερμής στη Λέσβο σε μια τελετή μνήμης για τους θανάτους στα σύνορα της Ευρώπης – Φρούριο. Αναμεσά μας βρέθηκαν οι επιζήσασες του ναυαγίου της 23 Απριλίου 2017 στα βόρεια του νησιού, αλλά και οι άνθρωποι που τους έσωσαν τη ζωή. Η τελετή αυτή μνήμης πραγματοποιείται κάθε χρόνο, από τον Οκτώβριο του 2013 και οργανώνεται από το δίκτυο Welcome to Europe.

copyright: Marily Stroux

΄΄Τη φετινή χρονιά δεν μνημονεύουμε μονάχα τους πρόσφυγες που πνίγηκαν στη θάλασσα αλλά και όσους χάθηκαν στη στεριά, αφού διέσχισαν τα σύνορα και εγκλωβίστηκαν στην Ελλάδα από τις πολιτικές της Ευρώπης-Φρούριο. Σήμερα θυμόμαστε τους φίλους που πέθαναν στο hot spot της Μόριας, στην προσπάθειά τους να ζεσταθούν με αυτοσχέδια μέσα. Θυμόμαστε όλους αυτούς που πέθαναν, χωρίς να προλάβουν να ταξιδέψουν για να συναντήσουν τους δικούς τους ανθρώπους.  Σήμερα όμως, δεν θυμόμαστε μόνο όσους χάθηκαν, αλλά τιμούμε και τους διασώστες, που καθημερινά δίνουν τον καλύτερο εαυτό τους σε μια δύσκολη μάχη.  Ο μόνος τρόπος για να τελειώσει αυτός ο συνεχής εφιάλτης των θανάτων στα σύνορα είναι να δημιουργήσουμε ένα ασφαλές μονοπάτι και να δώσουμε σε όλους τους ανθρώπους το δικαίωμα να μετακινηθούν ελεύθερα. Παράλληλα, όμως θα πρέπει να σταματήσουν τα νησιά μας να είναι φυλακές για όσους κατάφεραν τελικά να φτάσουν στην Ευρώπη.  Για εμάς η σημερινή τελετή μνήμης αποτελεί και μια υπόσχεση ότι θα συνεχίσουμε να παλεύουμε για να γκρεμίσουμε τα σύνορα και να δημιουργήσουμε μια άλλη, ανοιχτή Ευρώπη’’.

Το μνημείο επισκευάστηκε και επανατοποθετήθηκε φέτος στο κόλπο της Θερμής. Πολλές συλλογικότητες και μεμονωμένα άτομα συνέβαλλαν και τους ευχαριστούμε: οι ψαράδες της Θερμής  ΝΕΣΕΑΛΘ “ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ“, ο Στέλιος και το Ναυπηγείο στη Κουντουρουδιά, οι σιδηροκατασκευές Μωυσής Γιάννης, ο Χρύσανθος, οι Alcalica -ALM e.V., ο Σίμος και το τυπογραφείο WEB copy shop.

Μνημόσυνο στη Θερμή / Λέσβος

25 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Σήμερα, συγκεντρωθήκαμε όλοι εμείς, εδώ στον κόλπο της Θερμής για να θυμηθούμε τα θύματα του ευρωπαϊκού καθεστώτος των κλειστών συνόρων, της Ευρώπης Φρούριο.
Continue reading Μνημόσυνο στη Θερμή Λέσβος 25 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Memorial for the Dead of the European Borders, Thermi/Lesvos 25th of October 2017

Today in the afternoon more then 50 people gathered in the harbour of Thermi/Lesvos in commemoration of the dead of the European border regime. Among them were survivors of a shipwreck on 23rd of April of this year in the North of Lesvos as well as people active in rescue. The memorial happens once every year since October 2013 and was initiated by the Welcome to Europe network.

copyright: Marily Stroux

When we started to remember this year, who we have to mourn for, we realized that we are more and more confronted with death even after people have survived the sea. We had to commemorate today also friend who died last winter in the hot-spot of Moria, because they had been left during winter in terrible conditions. We are in close contacts with families that they waited too long to be reunited with their beloved even if they had the right for family reunification and died before. If you really want to mourn the dead of the Sea, you have to respect also the survivors. The only solution to end their suffering is to create safe passages, to give the people their right to move freely – and for those who are stuck here to finally open the islands. This is why every memorial for us is combined with the promise to tear down the borders that killed them and to create another, a welcoming Europe.

This year the memorial plate was renewed and fixed. We thank to: the local club of the fishermen ΝΕΣΕΑΛΘ “ΠΟΣΕΙΔΩΝ“, Stellios from the shipyard in Kontouroudia, metal work Gianis Moisis, Chrisanthos, Alcalica-ALM eV, Simos and Web copy shop.

Memorial speech

25th of October 2017

We came together today here in the harbour of Thermi for remembering the dead of the European border regime.
Continue reading Memorial for the Dead of the European Borders, Thermi/Lesvos 25th of October 2017

“The snow ruined our international image” – but what about the refugees?

Lesvos, 14 January, 2017 – the snow is melting, but the weather forecast is for another cold spell for Greece. The following is an attempt to get across what has been happening on Lesvos in the last ten days.


Snow storm in Greece, including on Lesvos! Of the 6500 refugees currently on the island, 3500 have been living in tents in the so-called hotspot Moria. None of them have been evacuated. Snow gets into the tents, onto the beds, onto blankets, into clothes – there is nowhere to dry off or to warm up.

While photos start spreading on social media, the UNHCR and NGOs try to rent hotel rooms in order to evacuate people from their tents.

However, the president of the Lesvos hotel owners association, Periklis Antoniou, re-iterates the organisation’s decision from three months ago not to rent out any rooms to refugees or to NGOs. The Syriza MP for Lesvos, Giorgos Pallis, has tried unsuccessfully to change that decision.

The hotel owners justify their policy saying that if they rented out rooms to refugees, then Lesvos would no longer be a tourist destination but a giant registration centre. This is the same organisation that made sure that the “Hope Centre” could never open and instead was even fined €10,000. The “Hope Centre” was a derelict hotel in Eftalou. Philipa and Eric Kempson, together with hundreds of volunteers, had spent months renovating it in order to turn it into refugee accommodation – all the time paying rent to the owners. Anything seems justified to prevent refugees from getting too close to the tourists.

International volunteers initially wanted to create a blacklist of hotels that refused to rent out to refugees so that no one would accidentally enjoy their summer holiday in the company of racists. Instead, they are now creating a whitelist with hotels that defy the ban.
Continue reading “The snow ruined our international image” – but what about the refugees?



Here you find the documentation: Doku-Mitilini-Journey-back-to-the-borders-2015

2017 just started – and the documentation of our journey back to the borders 2015 is ready.

It is more then one year later now – and what happened in 2015 already became history. When we read now, the texts and the pictures of 2015, we read it also to understand our own history.

A lot has changed since then, especially on Lesvos. After the EU-Turkey-deal and the closure of the Balkanroute, 60.000 people got stuck and are blocked under inhuman conditions in Greece. They are blocked from continuing their journey into another future. Lesvos, the island of solidarity has changed into the island of the trapped. Most deportations to Turkey are carried out via Lesvos. We will soon document what we experienced in October 2016.

Again there is the plan to build new detention centres on the Aegean islands, not much hope for a positive change this year. Even more resistance is needed and the history of the struggle for freedom of movement should be made public.

The border was never open – and it was never closed. Also today, under very difficult conditions, people manage to continue their journey and to arrive. Today, in times where EU-migration-policy again means mainly deterrence and deportation, we need more then ever another, a welcoming Europe, safe places where noone will be asked for a passport, but is just a friend among friends.