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Editor’s Note:  This is an unusual item for welovestornoway.  A despatch from the once idyllic Aegean Sea where a major humanitarian crisis now exists. 

Melissa Silver writes:

If you don’t already know, I’ll give you a quick summary. Turkey opened its border, allowing (and encouraging by providing a free bus service) thousands of refugees to try to gain entry into Greece - by land and sea.

At Evros, Greece, some 15,000 are waiting to cross the border - being met by armed police who are forcing them back.

As for the islands - more than 600 people arrived on the Aegean islands yesterday, hundreds of them to be met by angry mobs who did not want them to get ashore; pushing them back with sticks. People in black masks on a speedboat attacked one migrant boat, removing its engine and leaving it floating in the middle of the sea with men, women and children on board. Other boats were also left floating, watched by the authorities but not helped even when in visible distress.

Last night, the Greek government announced that they are suspending asylum applications for a month - meaning that those who get to Greek land after a life-threatening journey which they hoped would bring them from danger to safety, will be returned to their home countries with no consideration of their situation there.

Meanwhile, anyone connected with an NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) is now in danger, with a minority of right-wing locals seeing us as the reason for all this. NGO vehicles and houses have been targeted, as well as some volunteers themselves. On Lesvos and Samos (where I still am, currently, and where there are signs of the unrest spreading) we are advised not to walk alone. They have set the islands on fire to try to smoke us out but, for now - while we are needed more than ever - we remain.

For more updates, read: