On the Greek island of Lesbos, on the seaborne refugee front line, arrivals from Syria and other countries are processed at separate locations. Non-Syrians must register at a special reception point in Moria. Once they fill in the forms, they have admitted to entering the country illegally. They then have a certain time frame in which to leave, but are, in principle, exempt from arrest for the offence.
Humanitarian coordinator Maria Symeou, with the Red Cross, told euronews why some want to wait before moving on: “We have a reunification program called Restoring Family Links. We search for members of families who have got lost on the way here, perhaps been picked up from a boat sinking.”
There are rarely enough volunteer staff to ensure supplies are handed out fairly at noon each day. As part of Moria is on a steep hill, the queue can be dangerous when the truck rolls up.
Our correspondent Panos Kitsikopoulos said: “Hundreds of Iraqi and Afghan refugees will wait in line for even a little humanitarian aid. After what they’ve been through, it could prove vital for their survival."
Kara Tepe, closer to the island’s capital, Mytilene, has UN-provided huts or tents for 2,000 Syrians, exclusively. They are allowed to stay for as long as they like, although this byway is only around one quarter full at the moment.
Kara Tepe manager Stavros Myrogiannis said: “They need our help right now. Tomorrow, it could be us. We don’t say that. We say we have travellers visiting and have to take care of them.”
Myrogiannis won’t call them refugees, immigrants or even foreigners, but guests who are resting in Lesbos before continuing their travels after a few days.