Skip to main content

Greek heroes

 Far from home: Syrian refugees disembark from a flooded raft on a beach at Lesbos last October (Yannis Behrakis / Reuters)

The realities of what the people of Greece are facing on a daily basis - the flood of refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East landing on their shores - is clearly detailed in this piece in The Nation.     One would have to conclude that the people of Lesbos are real heroes.......not the pious politicians standing on their soap-boxes.

"Stratis Valiamos, 40, is a fisherman from Sykamnias, a village on this Greek island that is at the epicenter of Europe’s refugee crisis. Valiamos and other fishermen now routinely abandon their daily work to rescue people stranded in the Aegean, hauling rickety wooden ships crammed with hundreds of refugees off the rocks and towing them to port. They dive in the sea fully dressed to save drowning people of all ages. “Every time I go to sea, I know something’s going to happen,” Valiamos says. “This has been going on for 10 years now—it’s become a way of life.”

Valiamos says the Coast Guard often calls the fishermen to assist in sea rescues. “On October 28, I was cooking when they rang around 5 pm and said: ‘We have 300 people drowning on the open sea!’ The conditions were very dangerous that day. I thought to myself: ‘Even if I save one person, it’s worth it.’” So Valiamos dropped everything and left immediately, taking his boat 12 miles out to sea. “When I reached the shipwreck, I saw many dead bodies in the water—babies, children, and adults. I cooperated with the Turkish fishermen to save as many people as possible.”

Over 1 million people arrived in Europe by sea in 2015—the vast majority fleeing war and persecution in Syria and the wider Middle East, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN’s refugee agency. Greece received a staggering 851,319 of these people, with half a million landing on Lesbos alone. The Mediterranean is now the deadliest migration route in the world. Last year, 3,770 people died or went missing on this short sea crossing, made more perilous by people-smuggling gangs who frequently overload unseaworthy boats at gunpoint.

As signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the European Union and its member states are responsible for providing reception and asylum. But the system is broken, falling far short of international law and the human-rights standards enshrined in the convention. Some of the factors driving this crisis are policy-driven, chief among them the European Union’s failure to agree on and implement a coherent policy that acknowledges the unstoppable flow of displaced people; its attempts to reduce refugee numbers through the militarization of land and sea borders; its unrealistic €3 billion deal with Turkey to stem the flow; and its tendency to blame Greece for the crisis—or, worse, to insist that Greece shoulder an impossible burden."


Popular posts from this blog

"Wake Up"

The message is loud and clear....and as you watch this, remember that it was on Israeli TV - not some anti-semitic or anti-Israel program somewhere in the world.

Sydney's unprecedented swelter.....due to climate change

It has been hot in Sydney, Australia.   Damn hot!.....and record-breaking.    So, because of climate change?  Yes, say the scientists.

"Southeastern Australia has suffered through a series of brutal heat waves over the past two months, with temperatures reaching a scorching 113 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the state of New South Wales.

“It was nothing short of awful,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney. “In Australia, we’re used to a little bit of heat. But this was at another level.”

So Dr. Perkins-Kirkpatrick, who studies climate extremes, did what comes naturally: She looked to see whether there was a link between the heat and human-driven climate change.

Her analysis, conducted with a loose-knit group of researchers called World Weather Attribution, was made public on Thursday. Their conclusion was that climate change made maximum temperatures like those seen in January and February at least…