Lesvos has a long history of refugees, stretching back much before what we call the ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015. Thousands of migrants have passed through the island. The more fortunate ones have been able to leave. The number stranded in recent years on our island has not been few. The same is the case on the other Aegean islands. Let us not be fooled into thinking that the refugee crisis is over, as the population in the detention centres has decreased in recent months with very few new arrivals. But we must ask ourselves, at what cost is this reduction happening? Thousands of migrants are stranded on the coast of Turkey, unable to cross, while illegal ‘pushbacks’ are happening every day in the waters of the Aegean Sea, resulting in people drowning and losing their lives.
Yet, the Greek government is proud of its policies. It claims that it has been able to ‘manage’ the refugee crisis more successfully and that it has solved the problem of increased migration flows to the Aegean islands. The government expects to fully achieve its goal as soon as it launches two closed immigration detention centres on the islands of Lesvos and Chios. These detention centres will be in remote locations on the islands; people will not be able to move freely except for specific limited reasons, and they will be completely excluded from social reality. We must not forget that we are talking about human souls who do not migrate by choice but are forced to do so because of the conditions they experience in their country. Upon reaching Greece and Europe, they are subjected to violent and tragic treatment. Instead of finding relief and feeling safe, they continue to struggle every day.
We pray for free borders and a life of freedom for all.