welovestornoway.com is a most unusual local news service…we have correspondents and writers in New York, Viet Nam, the Isle of Skye…and on the very borders of the European Union, where Greece and Turkey meet…and where, largely unnoticed, a crisis for asylum seekers grows worse every day.
Following on from Katie Macleod's insights yesterday into life in Coronavirus New York, here is Melissa Silver's despatch from the Greek frontier island of Lesvos where life in the massively overcrowded Moria camp is becoming more impossible by the day
Yesterday, Tuesday March 17th, Moria burned, fatally, again, killing at least one child, though rumours suggest more. This comes after weeks of horror stories, evacuations, cries – pleas – for help. Fallen on deaf ears for the millionth time.
Here’s my not-so-little account of the last few weeks on Lesvos and Samos, in some kind of chronological order, containing everything I can remember and probably missing lots of important things, but there’s been so unbelievably many horrible things happening that it’s a challenge to remember them all...
I left Lesvos five weeks ago, just after a peaceful protest was met with tear gas for the first time in what would become the first in a series of violent attacks.
As I left, I naively thought that would be it – the police had flexed their muscles, the angry locals had displayed their displeasure by attacking a volunteer house and threatening some volunteers and refugees. Things calmed down a little after, and I assumed it had just been a bad couple of days, and that it would all blow over.
While I was on Samos giving clothes, baby food and nappies to the residents of the smaller but arguably equally awful Vathy camp, things on Lesvos escalated beyond anyone’s imagination.
The night I was originally due to return (but had already changed my plans for personal reasons) was the night 200 refugees walked from Moria to the ferry terminal, after a rumour spread that the borders to the rest of Europe had opened.
My heart broke as I thought of people dismantling their “homes” to start this new life – only to be aggressively pushed back on the two-hour walk to the camp.