Lifeboats carry baby food

Jörg (March 2016)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 7:36 p.m.
As soon as I arrive, the first shift begins for me from 12:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on the beach. We keep an eye out for the rubber dinghies. Residual light amplifiers and lifeboats from Spain and Holland are also in use. The lifeguards officially only test the engine!

At 09:00 in the morning everything goes very quickly a boat with about 30 people has "made it" The lifeguards pull the boat ashore between the rocks. Medical staff check the arrivals. Dry socks are handed out, warm tea is offered and babies are swaddled. Everyone has a clear task and all of this without clear guidance.


People from all parts of Europe are on Lesbos to help refugees.
Many small NGOs that arose out of need help around the clock. But the Swiss Red Cross, ERCI and Proemaid from Spain are also working here and in many other places. The helpers from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Spain, Greece, Germany etc. take on voluntary work that is organized by the emergency preparedness and the state. Here the help works via WhatsApp and at a high level.

The coast guard intercepts many boats off the coast, if the refugees are lucky, it is not the Turkish one. There are also reports of pirates in Turkish waters using armed force to steal the last of the money from the refugees at sea. An escape costs between 500 euros and 1500 euros. A great many on both sides make good money from the misery of the people.

Friday March 25, 2016
Due to the lack of state structures on Lesbos, many small private initiatives have set up various camps on Lesbos (e.g. Better Days for Moria) to alleviate the immediate distress.

These camps are being or have already been cleared by the police. The refugees come to so-called internment camps.

The conditions in most of these camps are catastrophic. There is no adequate food supply, let alone baby food, and no medical care. The people are desperate. The big NGOs are withdrawing.…/unhcr–un-fluechtlingshilfe-stell…

There is a lot of discussion about the consequences and the impact on work here on the island. One thing is certain, nothing is certain.

The South Lesvos Shoreline Response Working Group Meeting will take place today at 3:00 p.m. I am very curious to see how the free helpers, the small associations and the NGOs organize themselves and the rescue on the coast. This will be important for me because N., who has arranged everything for me on site so far, will be flying home on Saturday. After the meeting, I go to bed so that I can survive the night on the beach unscathed.

Tuesday March 29, 2016
The boats are coming back stronger. In the night from March 28th to March 29th there were 7 on the south coast.

The boats are manned with up to 70 people, half of them are children.

The youngest child last night was 3 days old. There was also a woman on board who was nine months pregnant. The "life jackets" for children are often inflatable swimming aids. The adults wear vests that are quickly sewn together, the content of which consists of normal styrofoam from the hardware store, or car tires.

In bad weather with wind, waves and rain, there are discounts from the smugglers, the crossing then only costs $ 500 instead of $ 1500.

My tasks on arrival are varied. When we have helped people to get ashore safely and no medical help is needed, I hand out teddy bears to the children, help distribute dry clothes and try to keep track of things as best I can. Fortunately, I have not yet seen a landing on rocky ground or in rough terrain.

Text and photos © Jörg Holländer