“The heroic humanitarian efforts of Efi and Konstantinos reflect the spirit of solidarity which transcends intolerance. This is home-grown generosity: the accumulation of simple acts and it can be so powerful.”
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, who presented them with the Award.
Efi is one of the founders of PIKPA village, formerly a children's summer camp that was transformed in 2012 with the help of local authorities into a safe haven for vulnerable refugees.
During the peak of the 2015 crisis, PIKPA was hosting around 600 refugees a day, despite a capacity of just 150. Since 2012, PIKPA village has helped over 30,000 refugees.
"This award is a recognition of a conscious decision not to deny vulnerable human beings who arrived in Lesvos, and those who did not make it, their dignity. All that we have achieved with solidarity, we need to defend now. Together we persevere and move on."
Latsoudi on receiving the Award
'Safe haven' for refugees in Lesvos - joint winner Nansen Refugee Award 2016
Konstantinos accepted the award on behalf of the HRT. As secretary-general, Mitragas leads a team of more than 2,000 HRT volunteers, who have been rescuing people from the Aegean Sea and Greek mountains since 1978. In 2015, the volunteers worked 24 hours a day, responding to endless rescue calls in the middle of the night. During this time they undertook 1,035 rescue operations, saving 2,500 lives, and assisted more than 7,000 people to safety.
"War, poverty and persecution are the factors which make people flee their countries. Unfortunately, the magnificent Aegean Sea became one of the world's deadliest migration routes. This award belongs to all the two thousand volunteer rescuers of the Hellenic Rescue Team who, allow me to say, are heroes because we consider it our duty to risk our lives to save others."
Mitragas on receiving the Award
Greek volunteer sea rescue team - joint winners Nansen Refugee Award 2016