An Uncertain Future

The last week or so, we have all been preparing for the expected influx of refugees, yet so far, we see no signs of this in the North. Although all camps are supplied, the number of arrivals has somewhat diminished. This is especially the case in the North where we now go days without any arrivals, only to suddenly have six in one day. In the South, there are still arrivals, but in a much different manner. Most refugee boats are picked up by the Greek Coast Guard and brought to Mytilini port. We can therefore only think that the decline in the number of arrivals is caused by actions taken in Turkey. One refugee told us when he arrived that this had been his seventh attempt. Six times he had been on a boat turned back by the Turkish Coast Guard.
Aside from the Turkish Coast Guard, there has been no cases of direct push backs at sea. The only case of returned people known at the moment is of 150 Pakistani refugees brought directly from the island back to Turkey. Since this increase of control, fear has grown, encouraging people their best chance for the crossing is under the cover of darkness, which is all the more dangerous.
With the situation on the island at a lull, we are shocked at the images we have received showing Idomeni. Volunteers we work closely with have recently left to the border. We have tried to give all the support we can from the Cheese Factory including sleeping bags and medicine.
From recent events, we doubt the new European policy, including the closure of its external borders, will be successful. In the past, people have shown that they cannot be deterred, but resolve to more dangerous routes. The state of emergency declared by Hungary shows that they, too, do not believe that closing the borders of Europe will be a long term solution.
So what does this mean for Lesvos and for Proti Stassi? Perhaps the number of arrivals will decline and a new route will emerge via the Black Sea and Bulgaria. Or refugees will continue to seek refugee on the Aegean islands, but continue along a new Balkan route, including Albania and Kosovo. Although for now this is all speculation. In these alternative routes, less aid would be available, less sea rescue in the case of the Black Sea. Moreover, there have been numerous cases of ill treatment of refugees in Bulgaria.
In any form the situation evolves to, we have decided to continue our work as Borderline-Europe on Lesvos. Unlike many other organisations, the cost to maintain our structure and work here is very low, which makes it possible for us to stay without an influx of refugees. We can also begin our work as a human rights watch organisation at the Aegean and on the borders.
All the while, we have been taking care of our Cheese Factory, restocking, building shelving units and receiving refugees who have just arrived in Lesvos.