all the talk here in molyvos, and probably all over lesvos, is of the NATO decision to send war ships to the aegean. their reasoning is to stop human trafficking. but the despicable people who are profiting off this almost incomprehensible human tragedy on the level of human trafficking, aren't in the aegean. they stay safely in turkey, providing the boats and often fake life vests, collecting around $1,000 a head. they put the refugees in a small rubber dinghy, tell someone a man on board that he's steering, and shove them off.
i fail to see how NATO warships are going to have an impact on that.
the stories i have heard from various volunteers are horrendous. one volunteer told me that he had heard of an incidence in which one man refused to steer, insisting that the man providing the boat steer them. according to this volunteer, and it is hearsay, the man was taken off the boat and his skull crushed with a large stone. in front of his family. then another man told to steer.
another volunteer told me that the people steering the boats often head for the lighthouse. they are not sailors, they see the light of the lighthouse and they head for it. but the lighthouse is there to warn of a dangerous area, so the boats that head for the light, thinking they are heading for safety at long last, are actually steering right onto dangerous rocks. this volunteer told me that they have often had to rush down to the rocks to save the people on the boats that come in there.
back to NATO. once again i have to ask how warships are going to help this situation. they claim they will not be there to send the boats back to turkey, nor will they be concerned with rescuing boats in distress. so why are they really being deployed? to intimidate?
this decision to send warships has been taken in conjunction with several other events happening around the refugee crisis:
the EU pressure on greece to stop the flow of refugees.
the decision to also make turkey a "safe third country",
and--most telling of all in my opinion--turkey's position of only taking in more refugees (to stay as opposed to transit) if the aegean sea route is closed
the only conclusion i can draw is that NATO is deploying in the aegean to close the sea route and force turkey to take the refugees.
currently there are about three million refugees in turkey, 2.5 million syrians from the war there, and hundreds of thousands of iraqis.
erdogan--turkey's president--has said they will send the refugees to europe, opening the borders to bulgaria and greece.
of course the US and russia have now agreed, in theory, on a ceasefire in syria, but a close reading of the story seems as though what that means is that all the involved countries are going to align with assad against isis. that's not a ceasefire.
the simple and logical answer to stopping the refugee crisis would be to stop the war. but war is profitable and i don't think that's really the plan.
but if NATO or whoever really wanted to end the human trafficking all they would have to do is offer safe passage for the refugees. you could fit a lot of refugees on a warship.
so what does all this mean for we volunteers? here in molyvos, we are a scant few miles from turkey, and it is along this north coast where most of the boats land. it is also along this north coast that NATO warships will be arriving today.
i can't say i like the idea. yesterday, a group of us sitting on the patio outside our hotel office felt a huge jolt. something in the hotel office was banged against the wall, but there was nobody inside. we found out later it had been the result of a sonic boom from a NATO jet flying overhead.
will there still be work for us to do? what's going to happen?
in regard to yesterday's blog post, many people have also been considering leaving the organization. i have already left. with today's reality of NATO arriving, those who were struggling with the decision of continuing to work for an organization that condoned and hid a rape--because they came here to work--are suddenly finding it a much easier decision.
some are considering going to the greek-macedonian border which is the next step for refugees on their way from greece to germany. others are considering turkey or macedonia itself.
i don't know yet what i'm going to do. i may go to kos or chios where boats have also been arriving (though whether that will still be the case, i don't know) or down to mytilini (near moria) to continue to work there. at the end of march, i head to turkey because of visa requirements.
today i'm off to the hope center near here. i hear they're a lovely group. i just want to work. i haven't worked for almost a week now, ever since i found out about the rape and decided i couldn't continue to work here. and that's frustrating. i came here to work.
tell you all about the hope center tomorrow...
plans changed. saw this just off the coast and went to town to take pix instead
i'm hearing that's a greek ship, but it's definitely a warship.
what are they going to do if they see a boat? bomb it?