Lesbos, Greece – More than 100,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece since the beginning of 2016. They cross the Mediterraenean, risking their lives to board dinghies after paying smugglers on the Turkish coast.
They must survive a boat ride of more than two hours across the waters that separate the Turkish coast from the Greek island of Lesbos. More than 400 people have already drowned attempting the journey this year.
The Greek coastguard patrols the Aegean Sea in search of boats in trouble. In Lesbos, doctors team up with rescue workers, firemen, and volunteers waiting for the daily arrivals, who disembark on the beaches of Greece shaking from the cold, but happy to have made it alive.
The teams of helpers work fast to provide hot drinks, blankets, medical support and, in many cases, a comforting hug.
European governments have put up a number of obstacles to curb the inflow of people. Recently, migrants from specific countries were blocked from continuing their journey on the Balkan route by crossing into Macedonia, which has led to protests and clashes between refugees and authorities.
In Lesbos, refugees are sent to registration centres, such as Moria, where they wait for days to receive documents that will allow them to board ferries to Athens.
Despite the difficulties, many refugees persevere having left behind homes torn apart by violence and war.
“We all have the same story, we are travelling the same road, a road where our hearts have died, a road that is taking us far from home,” said one Syrian refugee.