Don't send them back to war
Mytilene harbour on the island of Lesvos, Greece © Amnesty International (photo: Naomi Westland)
On the island of Lesvos, Greece, Amnesty International's "When you don't exist" campaign hosts a week-long action to support the rights of migrants and refugees across the European Union. Here, Livewire shares their blog about Papa Stratis, a Greek orthodox priest from Kalloni, one of the people who helps new arrivals every day on the island.
Papa Stratis waits for us on a bench in the little courtyard outside his parish church in Kalloni. We have come to hear how he, with young local people, provide simple, basic things – food, clothes, water, a place to sleep – to the people from Afghanistan, Syria and other places, who come here on boats from Turkey. Papa Stratis and his small group meet the refugees and migrants as they come off the boats, on the streets and roads of Lesvos and in detention.
This should not happen, especially when people are fleeing war. Would you like that? Would you like to be sent back to war?
“What I see are people. People in need. I cannot turn them away, nor can I kick them, nor imprison them. I cannot send them back to where they came from. Nor can I throw them in the sea to drown.”
This is a story of generosity and hospitality from a local community which, like the rest of Greece, is caught up in an economic crisis.
We ask him what he thinks about the stories of the Greek coastguard illegally pushing back boats as they try to reach Greece: “This should not happen, especially when people are fleeing war. Would you like that? Would you like to be sent back to war?”