The first stop for refugees on Lesvos is placed near city Skala Sikamineas, on north side of island. From the coast of Skala Sikamineas we could clearly see in front of us the Turkish coast and boats with refugees coming one after another. Refugees are welcomed by people from NGOs who hand in water and food. Transport for Mytilene is organized for people who cannot walk or have healthy problems and for mothers with children. The rest go on foot. The distance from north side of island to port in Mytilene is around sixty kilometers. Some of people walk in flip-flops and after some kilometers they walk barefoot. Sometimes, locals give lift to refugees when they see them on their way.
Directly after arrival, refugees are extremely happy they are finally in Europe. Some of them kiss the ground and cannot stop tears. After some kilometers of walk, ending in Mytilene port in horrible conditions, the frustration replaces happiness and helplessness grow when refugees are waiting for couple of weeks for temporary papers allowing for one month stay in Greece.
We have impression that now refugees in Mytilene are taking over the role of tourists for businesses run by locals. On every corner, in hotels or restaurants are information translated to Arabic. In kiosks are available tents and sleeping bags to buy and other stuff that can be useful in this situation. All places in hotels and rooms to rent near port are occupied. People are renting also their private rooms and apartments for refugees despite it was forbidden by law. Some of locals use situation to earn and others help with no expectations for profits. Residents are volunteering to support refugees by collecting clothes or food and medical help.
Sytuacja jest trudna dla obydwu stron - uchodzców i mieszkańców wyspy, powiedziała jedna z wolontariuszek. Nie możemy pozostać obojętni na to, co się teraz dzieje na wyspie. Musimy stawić czoła problemom i znaleźć najlepszy sposób na ich rozwiązanie.
W obozie przebywa teraz kilkanaście rodzin, które straciły podczas podróży wszystko i potrzebowały natychmiastowej pomocy. Podczas pobytu tam zaczepiła nas młoda para, pokazując zalane telefony i dokumenty. Gdy płynęli na pontonie z innymi uchodźcami do Grecji, armia turecka otworzyła do nich ogień. Obydwoje byli poturbowani i w szoku.
In last day days we visited group of young people who created local camp for refugees were food, toys for children and toys are collected. Residents of Mytilene and neighborhoods decided to take action while seeing the situation with refugees is getting worst.
The situation is hard for everyone, refugees and inhabitants, said one of volunteers. We cannot ignore what is happening now. We have to face this problem and deal with it the best way we can, so we try to help in every possible way.
In this camp they host a few families that needed urgent help and lost everything on the way to Europe. During our visit we met young couple who showed us their destroyed cell phones and documents. Their boat were shoot on the way to Greece by Turkish army. Both of them were roughed up and still shocked.