Just a quick message to the people who didn't follow my daily reports on Facebook of my recent visit to Leros. I've just returned on Sunday after spending a week in Leros. The situation has greatly changed since I was last there in August. On arrival I notice a big increase in the number of refugees living and sleeping in and around the port area. I arrived and met Anne Tee, I had 6000 euros of your donations five of which I handed over to Anne of Leros Solidarity Network and 1000 I held onto for spending as I needed
6000 refugees were stranded on Leros due to the fact that there was a ferry strike so no one could leave for a period of three days. I was really impressed by the the amount of new volunteers from all over Europe and US, all full of enthusiasm to help, and it was wonderful to see so many Greek and local people all helping also.
The UNCHCR and Medicine San Frontiers and Practice had arrived and set up clinics in the new large camp housing the majority of the refugees. The weather was really nice but extremely cold at night. I spent the first day helping the refugees at the Port Police yard, handing out clothes and sleeping blankets and making babies bottles. I took a suitcase full of shoes which I purchased in Penny's and poncho rain gear. The Second day I helped give water and biscuits to the newly arriving refugees as they were taken off the coast guards boats, very upsetting to see, and deal with the opposition of the port restaurant to us giving biscuits and water as he claimed it was bad for his business. I spent all day also chasing down a wheel chair for a handicapped young man from Syria which seven hours later I delivered to him.
The rest of the week I distributed clothes from the large warehouse now full of plastic bags waiting to be sorted. There is still a huge shortage of shoes and in the last few days I brought families to the Chinese shop and spent the 1000 euros on shoes.
Leros is now a very welcoming place for all refugees, the government is supplying a hot meal to every refugee arriving and the UN delivered a container of blankets and every refugees receives a blanket. The UN also MSF have constructed a rows of IKEA style houses. The camp now has toilets and showers to cater for everyone. It's not perfect and it was chaotic while I was there because of the huge numbers arriving and stranded because of the strike.
Shoes are still needed in all common sizes for men women and children, and foil heat blankets with warm coats and jackets to help the refugees in walk to the Baltic countries. I have kept in touch with many of the people and get emails and text from them as they travel across europe.
While I was there we had a volunteers meeting and a request came from a small Island called Agathonisi which is occupied by about two to four hundred inhabitants who are unable to cope with the amount of refugees arriving and pleaded for body bags and volunteers to come to their aid. The island is quite remote and at the moment three boats go there three times a week. I'm hoping to make contact with someone there and will try and raise some funds and aid and visit on my next trip to see how we can help into the future.
Thanks again for all your help and donations and please keep stay connected to this issue,