Greece: the fishermen of Lesbos saving refugee lives

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Source: Aljazeera

By 

Lesbos, Greece – Before sunrise, 45-year-old fisherman Kostas Pinteris launches his small boat eastwards with a plan to drop his nets near the Greece-Turkey border in the Mediterranean.

As he leaves the port, he looks right and left, worried. Just a few hours ago, theattempted coup had kicked off in Turkey. Talk on the island was that the violence could lead to a new surge in refugees embarking for Lesbos.

“I remember I was a young boy, and I saw Iraqi men arriving on small rubber boats with paddles,” Pinteris says while pulling his fish-laden nets out of the water. “We wondered, ‘Why are these men here?'”

Like most of the people in this small and conservative village, Pinteris initially viewed the arrivals as an invasion. But now, in light of recent events, even some of the most hardened Greeks on the islands have changed their minds.

“After having experienced what we have this year, with women and children in the water screaming for help, many people’s world views have changed,” Pinteris says.

People traffic

The small village of Skala Sykmias, home to 60 people where Pinteris was born and grew up, became the centre of the refugee crisis last year.

There was constant people traffic, from the more than 400,000 refugees landing on beaches near the village, along with the staff and volunteers of government and nongovernmental organisations who have been staying in the village for months.

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