With the crowd funding for the “Boat for Sara” campaign ending this week, I have been thinking about the next steps – ordering and buying the boat. With so many tragic events on the Mediterranean this week, it is possible to get lost in the sheer scale of tragedy. What we can forget too quickly in the face of such vast events, is the value, and importance of smaller contributions. Proem Aid have decided to stay on Lesvos, and it is a reminder that each human life matters. Here is an article on my recent thoughts about what is going on politically – and the difficulty of predicting what will happen next. It is also a little celebration of small actions – and on that theme, I would like to take this next opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has contributed and donated towards Sara’s Boat.
While the eyes of the world are rightly focused on the terrible shipwrecks this week on the Mediterranean, there are still boats coming in on the Greek Islands too. There was a lull in boats coming over as the EU-Turkey pact came into action. However, this week many more boats are coming in again. These pictures are from PROEM – AID (see my FB page) this week – who have determined to stay, regardless of whether it is less or more boats. Some on the Island have a sense that the numbers may well be picking up again. Of course, no one can be sure, but there are many factors to be considered.
While the eyes of the world are rightly focused on the terrible shipwrecks this week on the Mediterranean, there are still boats coming in on the Greek Islands too. There was a lull in boats coming over as the EU-Turkey pact came into action. However, this week many more boats are coming in again. These pictures are from PROEM – AID this week – who have determined to stay, regardless of whether it is less or more boats. Some on the Island have a sense that the numbers may well be picking up again. Of course, no one can be sure, but there are many factors to be considered.
The situation in Syria remains dire, with many hospitals and civilian buildings being targeted in the last month (link below) Beyond that, there are many reports about great uncertainty and tension between the EU and Turkish leaders; “recent events suggest the deal is quite fragile” as The Guardian reports (link below) whereas Spiegel reports that it “appears that the deal is on the verge of falling apart, only two months after the program began” (link below).
Whether or not the agreement holds its place, it is being challenged on many sides as “a flagrant breach of EU and international law” (EU Law Analysis, link below) and this week “a Greek court ruled that sending back migrants to Turkey violated fundamental principles contained in the 1951 refugee convention because that country cannot be considered safe”.
Continuing that theme, with living conditions for refugees still said to be so bad for refugees in Turkey, one imagines that longer term, there will be many who still decided to make the dangerous trip across the Aegean. Amnesty international reports on camps in Turkey that “kids aren’t going to school, they’re working temporary and exploitive jobs, and living in housing which is barely suitable, or not suitable, for human habitation” (International Business Times, link below).
Anyway, the point of this post, is that I think it is very easy to get lost in the scale of this crisis, and its numbers. I think one person drowning in the sea, when it could have been prevented is tragic enough. The paradox is that because of the scale, it is possible to think of these drownings in terms of “phenomenon” i.e through numbers. I think it is that fact which has turned the “refugee crisis” into not a humanitarian crisis in the minds of politicians (and some media) – but into a political one. Something which has to be “solved” in terms of “what we do with our borders”, rather than with how we can help.
Anyway, I think it is magnificent that Proem Aid are staying on Lesvos. Why? Because it reminds one that even if a single life is saved, or a single person helped, than that is contribution enough. It may be that the scale of drownings in the Mediterranean is so vast, that it can only be helped by larger organisations and governments. Apart from the number of people attempting this route from North Africa, the physical distance between Libya and Italy requires bigger boats and organisations. That said, in my experience, normal people always seem to find a way to help!
But from what I have seen and understand on Lesvos, is that there is still a vital role for smaller, motivated humanitarian organisations and rescue workers like Proem Aid. I continue to be so impressed with their work, and other foundations like Eidomeni Crew-InterVolve International Volunteers, who are contributing and adapting their work and contribution. Sometimes, that will mean sticking the course like PROEM – AID on Lesvos. And sometimes that will mean upping sticks like part of Intervolve are doing (by partly moving from Idomeni to nearer Thessaloniki (link below)).
The point is that this is, and always will be, a crisis of people. And it is a crisis of many faces, and ever changing in nature. Who knows what will happen next, but thankfully, there are people out there like Proem Aid and Intervolv who are in for the longer term – to help regardless of how this many faced crisis adapts next. And who remember the value of each human life; its meaning, it’s potential, it’s preciousness.