The following images and text were provided by Kirsty Evans, field and campaigns coordinator for Europe Must Act and Project Coordinator for unaccompanied minors for Refugees 4 Refugees on Lesvos.
A state of emergency was announced on Lesvos, for the next four months: Mobilisation of forces, blockades to prevent refugees' movements, and riot police at the ready. A hurting island continues to cause pain.
After the inevitable happened on an unimaginable scale, we now must begin to build back broken lives in a better way.
Actors on the ground are working to identify the high number of unaccounted-for unaccompanied minors stranded in the city, still crouching in the jungle, hidden away in fear. Some had been burned, others were beaten, most afraid but relieved to be away from "Moria-bad" (their words).
Working in collaboration we accounted for many and made their safety our priority, supporting each other to secure and shelter them. We provided food, water, and NFIs, and set up space for them to rest after huge upheaval and uncertainty.
Proud of what we achieved, we still have work to do. Not all were found and this must be problem-solved. What makes children run and hide? Fear, anxiety, maltreatment, hopelessness; we cannot perpetuate this and continue to look away.
Yesterday proved good things happen when humans work collectively for the betterment of others. However, I am afraid for the coming days and what it means for those who, with very little to start, have now lost everything. If we do not learn from the grave errors that caused this, there is very little to hope for.
How do I feel? Not sad that the shame of Europe was burned away, but disappointed that we incited the fury that led to this outpouring. The EU/Turkey deal allowed us to sideline pushbacks, put politics before people, degrade & discard human dignity, display a spectacle of deterrence manifested through Moria, do more harm to populations fleeing persecution and war, trap people in pain – within wire fencing – without psychological support to 'prevent pull-factor'.
Our European leaders encouraged us to close our eyes & look away; when we did take action, they criminalised #humanitarians that helped & misrepresented the people needing protection.
Moria you won't be missed, but your history must exist as an example of the worst we can be. Let's use its demise as the first step towards better, humane, migration.
It is essential that we act now to:
Immediately decongest the Aegean Islands through fair relocation across European countries (Including Norway, UK, Switzerland)
Replace the EU-Turkey Agreement with a fair and humane EU policy on migration
Ensure dignified and legal conditions of reception across Europe.