Proposal 2: An Oasis for Refugees - Lesvos Solidarity

Peace Award 2021: Shortlist Award of the Donors

In 2012, Efi Latsoudi and a small group of local residents and volunteers begin distributing food and other essential goods to refugees and other people in need of protection. When the number of refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea continues to rise, they prepare large amounts of warm meals and distribute them at central localities.

The deserted area of land around a former summer camp on the outskirts of the capital city Mytilene is renovated, and Camp Pikba is built in its place, with room to cater for up to 120 people in need of protection. Pregnant women, people suffering from chronic illnesses and those with mental health problems, minors and people with disabilities are all able to find refuge here. When, in 2015, an even greater number of refugees reach the island, the structures are already in place to take in another 400 people. In 2016, Lesvos solidarity is officially registered as a non-government organisation.

Refugees and local residents are encouraged to become actively involved by learning to help themselves. The principles that underlie the work are openness, transparency and environmental sustainability. Everyone has access to the activities on offer, which are distinguished by cultural diversity and shared artistic creation.

In the wake of the devastating fire in Camp Moria on Lesbos, armed police officers stormed the self-governing refugee camp Pikba on 30th October 2020.  The Greek minister for immigration ordered the evacuation of „The Village of Altogether“ and prohibited the longstanding work of the non-government organisation, Lesvos Solidarity. The people who witnessed the violent eviction, children in particular, were traumatised, in some cases severely.

The Mosaik Support Centre is still run by Lesvos Solidarity in cooperation with the NGO borderline-europe. It is situated directly in the city centre of Mytilene and offers language courses, cultural activities as well as legal advice for residents and people who have fled their country. In a local sewing shop, locals and refugees make bags from items found on the rubbish tips, such as lifejackets and clothes that end up there having been discarded on the island‘s beaches. They are then sold under the label "Safe Passage".

The work carried out by all NGOs on Lesbos is currently considerably restricted due to the effects of the global crisis resulting from the pandemic. However, the team is absolutely determined to continue its work. Former camp residents receive support when searching for a flat. Hygiene concepts are being developed for Mosaik and Upcycling projects. Teaching and counselling services are in part in the process of being digitalised. The search is on for new grounds where day-care facilities can be offered and a safe space for women and children can be provided. On a political level, Lesvos Solidarity bears witness to racist attacks carried out by the police, the military, the civilian population and groups from the political right that have travelled into the country. In this way, the NGO campaigns for the safeguarding of the human rights and dignity of refugees.

Information how to vote here: Award of the Donors

Proposed by: Burkhard Paetzold, Luciano Kovacs, Ute Gniewoß, Konrad Wolf, Birgit Weinbrenner, Sabine Müller-Langsdorf, Doris Peschke, Beate Eichhorn