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Update from Dan in Lesvos:

“After a quiet period on the Island, during which we got our heads down in preparation for what we knew was coming; the inevitable has occurred and boats have started arriving, en mass, on the shore of southern Lesvos again.

This picture was taken at about 7am, after a nightmare of a night. And when I say nightmare, I mean a night that will surely be haunting my sleep for years to come. I will share what happened that night with you guys at some point, but first I need to get my own head around what happened, what I experienced, what I saw.

Anyway, this picture.

We had been sitting at the lookout point, the cliff known as Katia, when we noticed a small wooden fishing boat rapidly approaching an extremely dangerous area at the foot of the cliff.

Our team raced along the coast to meet it as fast as we could, jumped out of the car and started running down the rocky path towards where the boat had been heading…but somehow we had lost sight of it. The refugees in that boat were approaching the rocks, alone….

I left the team there to continue searching and jumped back in the car on my own, deciding to drive round to the other side of the cliff and see if i could approach the same area from the opposite direction, to ensure we covered any possible eventualities.

I abandoned the car once it had taken me as far as it could, and started running. I ran for a good 10 minutes, back along the waterfront, my heart exploding in my chest. I was exhausted but the adrenaline kept me going.

In the distance I could see the boat again. My team had found it and were already in the water attempting to take control of the situation, helping people off as calmly as possible, whilst also tending to the needs of the people once off, freezing cold, soaking wet, and often traumatised. As I got closer I estimated about 40 people, many of them young families.

I had a few emergency blankets on me, but not enough, so I proceeded to wrap them around the smallest children first, having to prioritise.

Once everyone was safely on dry land and ready for it, we began to lead the way along the base of the cliff for the long walk back to the road. It was rocky and difficult and many people were struggling either with children, with injuries, or just putting one foot in front of the other on solid ground after the traumatic crossing.

This little boy was handed to me by his mother as she was struggling with her two other children and a few heavy bags. I had already slid the emergency blanket under his clothes, against his skin, pulled it up and tied it to form a little hood around his head for warmth.

He giggled as we walked and enjoyed a biscuit given to him by the other volunteers who had now joined us. By the time we got to the road and I handed him back to his Mamma, we were friends, and he gave me a kiss on the cheek, leaving me covered in crumbs.
I am so grateful for my team. We were the first on the scene and dealt with the situation in a controlled and compassionate manner. The people on this boat arrived to Europe happy, calm, and most importantly safe.

This picture was taken by a photographer called Cesar Lopez Balan. I’m having a little trouble seeing the pain in my face. I hardly recognised myself, but I wanted to mention that way Carlos conducts himself photographing what is happening right on the front line. He actually helps out, always ensures he puts the people first and still takes wonderful, emotional photos. I wanted to mention this as not many photographers conduct themselves in this way, so thank you.

Dan”

from the Worldwide Tribe at:The World wide Tribe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rough seas, harsh winter, border limits add to migrant woes

Macedonia Migrants

PRESEVO, Serbia (AP) — Rasul Orwani thought he had faced the worst after braving cold, rough seas in a rickety wooden boat to travel from Turkey to Greece, then came the Balkans.

After arriving in Macedonia with dozens of other migrants, the group crossed into Serbia on foot in the middle of the night, icy snow stinging their eyes and lacing the children’s faces with tears.

Their heads bent low to protect from the cold, the migrants trudged slowly through the snow, carrying babies, small children and belongings along the 2-kilometer (1.2 mile) stretch of the road over the so-called green boundary between the two Balkan nations. A 10-year-old boy took a blanket from his shoulders to wrap it around his younger sister as they walked across the frozen landscape hand in hand.

Even as winter bears down on Europe and European Union countries set up new administrative hurdles for their entry, tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia have been desperate enough to embark on the weeks-long journey across the Aegean Sea and along the so-called Balkan migrant corridor where frigid weather and stricter border controls have turned an already tough journey into an even more treacherous one.

Safe in the Serbian town of Presevo on the border with Macedonia, Orwani said there was no turning back.

“Our trip is very dangerous and risky,” the 20-year-old Orwani said. “We crossed the sea, we were in a boat, and the waves in the sea could easily sink us in the water.”

While Europe took in more than 1 million people in 2015, EU countries have been struggling to limit the biggest migration to the continent since World War II. Some countries along the migrant route have said they want to slow the influx or even completely block it. Some of the nations imposed new, stricter regulations for those transiting toward their ultimate goal, Germany or other rich west European countries.

As a result, dozens of refugees have been turned back from the borders amid freezing winter temperatures, while others have faced border closures and long hours in registration centers and refugee camps. Experts say the measures are unlikely to stop the flow, but could instead prompt the refugees to again start using illegal routes over razor-wire border fences and through forests, pushing them into the hands of ruthless smugglers.

full story at AP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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