Via MSF.org: Greece: Testimonies from refugees and staff in Lesbos. Excerpt:
Majid, 28, and Fatima, 26, from Herat, Afghanistan
“I’m a musician – I play the tabla – but they don’t like us to play music in Afghanistan. My wife Fatima is a painter. In Afghanistan we don’t have the freedom to be ourselves.
"It took two months to travel through Iran, in a bad car, over mountains, crossing rivers. There were big waves on the sea. We were 35 in the boat. There was space for just one bag each.”
Thalia Flouri, MSF emergency team member
“I arrived on Lesbos on 11 July. Next morning, we left Mytilene – the main town and port of the island – and drove north. As we were driving, we met people walking to Mytilene. They were families with children and older people who looked very tired, exhausted even, walking for who knows how many hours.
"We had some small bottles of water, so we opened the window to offer this water to them. Tens – although it seemed to me like thousands – of hands reached through the window just trying to get a small bottle of water. I was shocked.
"Then we saw people lying down in the middle of the road, obviously unable to go on walking in the heat, lying under the sun without any cover. One was a boy of about 18. He couldn’t walk even another metre to reach the car and get some water. They had been walking the entire night.
"Further on, I saw a father dragging a rope attached to a plastic crate, with his two-month-old baby inside. He was too tired to carry the child the almost 70 km to Mytilene, so he was dragging her in a crate. He had cut a branch from an olive tree and fixed it onto the crate to give the baby some shade.
"When we arrived on the north coast of the island, we saw a dinghy full of migrants landing. They were so, so happy. The first thing they did was tear up all their papers and throw them into the water. Then they took off their lifejackets and threw them onto the shore. They were laughing and celebrating – the end of the journey or the beginning of the journey, I don’t know.
"They climbed up the hill to the road. When we offered them the small things we had, like bottles of water, they showed their appreciation any way they could, saying, 'Thank you my friend, thank you my friend.'
"We went to the main square in Molyvos, a village in the north of the island, where some volunteers and activists offer food to the migrants who arrive there. In this square I saw more people than I could count. There was a young lady from Afghanistan, I don’t think she was more than 20, with a baby in her arms, and she was trying to find her husband and some milk for the baby.
"On the way back, we visited the two camps on the island. That’s when I got angry. The camps were dirty and crowded. The toilets were blocked and there were flies everywhere. I couldn’t believe that children had to sleep in this place.
"I think these pictures will stay in my mind forever: the father dragging his child in a crate, the 18-year-old boy who couldn’t move, the young Afghan lady asking for her husband and for some milk… I will never ever forget these.”