David Morrissey in Greece 2015
David travelled to the Greek island of Lesvos in summer 2015 to witness the arrival of refugees and migrants making the risky sea journey from the Turkish coastline.
Every day, the number of refugees arriving in the Greek islands continues to rise, averaging 1,000 people daily. A staggering 60 per cent are refugees from Syria. Greece is now facing an unprecedented refugee emergency.
"We need all governments in Europe to step up to the plate and make this an EU issue not just one for Greece”
Despite the precarious situation facing many Greek people, their response to refugees has been overwhelmingly warm and generous. Initiatives organised by local volunteers, small businesses and tourists are overseeing the collection and distribution of food, water, clothing and even basic medical care. Additional UNHCR staff has already been deployed to five locations in the eastern Aegean, to provide advice and assistance to new arrivals.
David’s trip was a timely reminder that the Syrian crisis is ongoing and that global numbers of forcibly displaced people are at unprecedented levels. His journey shone a spotlight on this critical situation.
There is an urgent need for more funds to address this humanitarian crisis. UNHCR is working with partners to provide water, food and sleeping mats, providing translators to facilitate registration with Greek authorities. But more funds are needed and a greater commitment from governments to ensure safe and dignified reception. UNHCR is also urging States to consider increased use of credible legal alternatives such as resettlement, humanitarian admissions, individual sponsorship or family reunification so that people in need of international protection do not have to resort to dangerous irregular movements and the use of smugglers.