As refugees crowd onto Lesbos, the IRC is providing vital information and registration services
“People overwhelmingly just want to move on,” says Emily David, the IRC’s emergency protection coordinator. “They want to continue their journey at whatever the cost. They’re determined to reach their friends, family and find safety in Europe. We’re here to make sure that journey is as safe and dignified as possible.”
Families have been sleeping rough along a stretch of coastline of the port city of Mytilene, waiting for the Greek authorities to issue travel papers that will allow them to board ferries to Athens and, from there, make their way further into Europe. Crowds have gathered in long queues at a registration kiosk set up in an abandoned football stadium nearby. Local authorities have registered some 15,000 people, but processing is slow due to lack of resources, and tensions are rising in the punishing heat.
Pitched tents stretch along the coastline of the port in Mytilene, Lesbos. Ferries heading to mainland Greece have remained book with limited space for refugees. As a result, thousands have been stuck on the island, desperately hoping for their papers and a place on the ship.
“What [refugees are] most angry about is that they get absolutely no information about the registration process and how they can get off the island quickly,” said Kirk Day, the IRC’s emergency field director in Lesbos. “We have found that by providing access to that information, we’re gaining the population’s trust.”
The IRC is working around the clock providing other essential services as well, including clean water and sanitation, to families living in the Kara Tepe refugee camp. We are also helping new arrivals understand their legal rights.