Christian Peacemaker Teams – Lesvos is now Aegean Migrant Solidarity. The new name reflects the geographical location of our working area. Our work is not limited only to Lesvos Island but also includes other locations such as Chios Island, Athens, and the west coast of Turkey. Aegean Migrant Solidarity demonstrates a reference to the geographical scope of our work.
Our inclusion of ‘Aegean’ makes reference to the history of the Aegean Sea as a migration point for different populations. This predates what is now known as the ‘refugee crisis.’ Many of the locals of the island are also the descendants of Aegean migrants from more than one hundred years ago. In the 1920’s, a forced population exchange made refugees of ethnic Greeks living on the Western coast of Turkey; they faced a lot of difficulty when they had to resettle on the island. Aegean Migrant Solidarity is more inclusive name, embracing and underlining the common ground between the old and new migrants of the island.
The team prefers to use the word ‘migrant’ rather than ‘refugee,’ because on a daily basis we see people seeking shelter are divided into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ claimants. European policies and rhetoric is focused on accepting those who are considered genuine (refugees) and driving out those who it claims, came simply for better opportunities (economic migrants). We reject this categorization and do not make such distinctions when working with communities.
We chose the word ‘Solidarity’ because it easily leads into a conversation about the nature of our work, and provides a better opportunity to discuss CPT’s core values – ‘amplifying voices’, ‘accompaniment’, ‘undoing oppressions’ etc.
The members of the team will present themselves as workers of Aegean Migrant Solidarity, while on social media: Facebook and Twitter, the team will use CPT- Aegean Migrant Solidarity.