PORTRAIT 17 – LESVOS – MYTILINI HARBOUR – JULY 2016
It’s a hot summer midday. People nearby the liberty statue are jumping into the sea.
On the left there’s a group of older Greek men swimming, on the right one single refugee. Many refugees don’t know how to swim, but he does. He dives into the sea with full devotion, which is nowadays one of the few things he can and may do. So he enjoys it as much as he can.
He’s also hungry but can’t do much about that. He’s out of money and tells us that he’s not allowed in the refugee camps on the island. He can barely get food. Occasionally a few volunteer organizations hand out food at the harbor, as there are more men roaming around.
He’s a young boy, 17 years old. He speaks very poorly English and that little bit he can, he learned these past months. Despite the language barrier, we slowly manage to understand his story, also assisted by various documents he shows us.
“I escaped from Pakistan because the Taliban wanted to use me as a suicide bomber. I absolutely didn’t want to. I don’t want to kill people and I don’t want to die either.” He shows us a Greek registration card with as admission date January 27 2016. “I’m here for a while now and used to stay at a refugee camp in Thessaloniki.” It’s the second largest city in Greece, situated nearby the Macedonian border.
He returned to the place where he originally set foot in Europe, because his nephew arrived to Lesvos. “He’s only 15 years and is all alone own here in the shelter in the Silver Bay Hotel. I brought him some money and clothes.” On June 20, after the visit, he tried to take the boat from Mytilini to Piraeus. He bought a ticket -which had his name on it- but got refused on board.
He went to the police, who sent him away. He’s been wandering around the harbor ever since. Most probably hoping to illegally end up back on the mainland by boat. While he’s here, he has no access to food and shelter. Thankfully the sun is shining and the sea is as blue as the sky. He dives in once more…
Would you like to know more about the circumstances in Lesvos? Read: About Lesvos