UNHCR saddened by death of Lesvos Grandmother Maritsa Mavrapidou

An inflatable boat used by refugees to cross the Aegean sea from Turkey is seen near the port of Skala Sikamineas on the island of Lesvos in Greece, October 2015. ©UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Maritsa Mavrapidou, one of the ‘Lesvos Grandmothers’ and an international symbol of solidarity at the peak of refugee arrivals to Greece in 2015.

An iconic photograph of Maritsa Mavrapidou, Efstratia Mavrapidou and Aimilia Kamvysi nursing a refugee baby at the village of Skala Sikamineas on Lesvos, showed Greek compassion with refugees and moved people around the world. The image taken by Greek photographer Lefteris Partsalis and the actions of the Lesvos Grandmothers prompted a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Lesvos residents in 2016.

“Maritsa Mavrapidou reminded us of our fundamental ideals and respect for human dignity,” said UNHCR Representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc, “our thoughts are with her family, loved ones and the people of Lesvos.”

More than half of the one million refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who reached Greek shores in 2015 and 2016, landed on the island of Lesvos.