There has been some great interest (thank you so much for your support) in the situation in Lesvos, Greece with refugees and our (Cathy O'Callaghan and mine) work with so we wanted to do an update. Then we heard about the arrest of 23 year old Sara Mardini and decided to use this to highlight this desperate crisis and the deliberate efforts by the European Union, the United Nations and the Greek government to dehumanise refugees.
23 year old Sara Mardini and her sister Yusra are Syrian refugees. They have been hailed as heroes when they saved the lives of 18 refugees in 2015 by swimming with their broken, sinking boat to the shore of Lesbos. Now the Greek government have thrown Sara into a high-security prison under charges of espionage, people smuggling and being part of a criminal organisation. She can be held in prison for up to 18 months. https://www.theguardian.com/…/arrest-of-syrian-hero-swimmer…
Her crime? After being rescued she returned to Lesvos as a volunteer for an organisation that has set up a medical clinic for refugees in the notorious Moria camp, a former prison. They have also assisted in rescuing refugees risking their lives crossing from Turkey. Two others, the coordinator and another volunteer, were also arrested. This is part of a trend in Greece and across Europe to criminalise people who want to demonstrate humanity, support refugees and defend human rights. We knew this organisation, Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI), and were keen to work with them.
The irony of this brutal crackdown from the Greek government is that ERCI sent two boats to Athens to help with the rescue response when the capital city, Athens was under siege from major fires with major loss of life. It appears the crime is helping non-Europeans!
The situation on Lesvos is not improving. Latest figures show 45 boats arrived in August and the total refugee population right now is over 10,000. In 2018 532 boats arrived from Turkey and 569 were turned back. They will try again. https://www.facebook.com/…/a.285301761992…/361108594412251/…
We continue to support the organisations in Lesvos. There was a meeting last week organised by the Legal Centre Lesvos to bring refugees together to provide them with training as refugee community advocates. And of course the women and their families still need showers.
We are working out how we should respond to the Greek government’s arrest of this brave, young Syrian woman. There is an embassy in Wellington.
Please circulate this Give-a-little page to anyone you think might be interested.