Skala Sikamineas has always been a special place. Now, it has two Nobel Peace Prize nominees from the village.
This little fishing village by the sea, looking out on Turkey, has given so much support to the arriving refugees in need. Years and years before the volunteers came. Most of the local residents in Skala are the descendants of people forced to leave their homes in Turkey in the 1920’s, starting a new life in Greece, and they connect their own backgrounds to what the refugees now have to go through.
83 year old grandmother Emilia Kamvisi and Stratos Valiamos, one of the fishermen in Skala Sikamineas who have been rescuing refugees at sea, are now said to have been picked to represent the helpers on the Greek islands in a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In December, we posted this interview with Stratos. After spending months helping each other out in welcoming people arriving on Lesvos, taking us out on beach cleanings and chatting in the cafés, our humble friend told us more about what he has been through here.
People have started a journey to a better life. I will not let the sea stop them.
The sea has always been the the love of Stratos life. Few days have passed without him being in the water. But since the refugee crisis intensified in May, the sea has given him problems sleeping.
During our journey back to the borders we had to witness for two weeks the situation for newly arrived refugees in Lesvos getting worse day by day.
More and more children, mothers, fathers and grandparents are risking their lives by crossing the Aegean sea.
After arriving and being thankful for surviving they are faced with the unbearable situation in Lesvos.
Walking in the sun for 2 – 68 km, waiting in dirty parking lots, at the port, in makeshift refugee camps like Kara Tepe and outside and inside the Detention center of Moria and elsewhere.
The Situation at other European arrival and transit points like Kos or Idomeni is not better.
It is time for the competent authorities of the European Union to provide for Ferries transporting refugees to Europe in a respectful and save way. Freedom of Movement for everybody!
The people face unbearable conditions here: families even with young children and babies have to sleep outside on the ground in the overcrowded camps and in the harbor, without a tent, without a blanket, often even without anything under them. Some of them lost everything on the boat: Today we met a woman, traveling alone with her three small children. She not only lost her passport, her money, everything on the boat between Turkey and Lesvos. We managed to buy some baby food and pampers, we could offer shoes for the children from our donations. But she is just one of so many people here on the island. Around 80.000 refugees arrived in 2015 on Lesvos. The island as a whole has 86.000 inhabitants.
Who goes today in the harbor? Who’s heading for Kara Tepe? And who to Moria? These are the finishing questions of our daily plenary. After “using” the midday heat in the shade sitting to reflect on the yesterday, and to plan the today, we head to these the three places – equipped with many info flyers, water, often also medicine, clothing and paper and pens.
To the harbor in Mitilini refugees go directly after they have arrived on the island and need to register for the first time. From there they are brought into the camps either Kara Tepe or Moria. After their second registration, after having got the white paper, with which they have the right to buy a ferry ticket to the mainland, they go again to the harbor for buying a ferry-ticket waiting for the date to have the chance to leave the island and go on their way to Europe. Continue reading Journey back part III: One Day at the port→
29th of August 2014
We received the information that there is a rescue operation in Nees Kydonies Lesvou. A 38-year-old woman has gone missing. Strong winds in the area. The coast guard boats are not sailing only a helicopter flies for a while over the area.
At noon 25 Afghan refugees arrived at PIKPA. Two dingy boats had arrived early that morning. Strong winds and waves can’t stop smugglers but also can’t stop the need of people escaping war. Among the survivors of the first boat there is a five year old girl with her uncle. Her mother is missing. The child is resting in PIKPA. PIKPA is overcrowded again. More than 150 people arrived yesterday. No available beds and the families taking care of the girl give her their own beds. We inform the Doctors of the world in Moria detention camp about the tragic incident as well as Red Cross International. The child has a sister and her father in Belgium and they talk on the phone when the child is transferred in Moria to be examined and supported by the doctors. Continue reading Life not Death, by Efi Latsoudi→
On the early noon of Sunday 11th of July a refugee boat got in distress 10nm North East of Karlovasi, Samos. The refugee boat carrying approximately 35-40 people was a sailing boat according to the testimonies of the survivors.
The causes of the shipwreck are not yet clear. The media speak about bad weather conditions, overloaded boat, panic, sudden movement of the passengers etc as possible causes.
On Sunday there are 15 survivors in the Greek side (9 were brought to Chios, 6 to Samos) and 8 survivors on the Turkish side (2 near the shipreck area and 6 norhernof this area). In Samos Hospital (ICU) there is a minor in intensive care. They were trying to transfer him to Mytilini ICU but his severe health condition made the transfer impossible.
2 corpses were found Friday on the Greek side: a dead man and a dead woman and 2 more bodies (of a man and a boy) were found on Saturday also on the Greek side. Another two corpses were found on the Turkish side.
At least 8 persons are still missing.
The rescue operation was carried out with 4 Greek coast guard boats, 1 helicopter and 5 boats that were sailing in the area that day.
Until now there was no information about the nationalities of the survivors or their health condition.