(Lesvos, Greece) – The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Lesvos on Saturday in order to view the migrant and refugee situation first-hand. For over a year and a half, 1.5 million migrants and refugees from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have arrived in the Greek islands. Those headed for Europe often find themselves in Greece, where many of them are held in camps as they wait for their asylum applications to be processed. Lesvos is one of the islands in Greece that has a high concentration of refugees and migrants who have escaped their countries.
Ban said that Greece has shown “remarkable solidarity” in how they’ve dealt with the situation. However, he has also said that the nightmare is far from over. After witnessing the camps first hand, he has urged countries to handle things from a humanitarian standpoint and not with closed borders, barriers, and prejudice. He said, “Today, I met refugees from some of the world’s most troubled places. They have lived through a nightmare. And that nightmare is not over.”
He praised the efforts on Lesvos, saying, “But here in Lesvos, they have found relief from war and persecution.” The people on Lesvos have opened their homes to refugees, and international and local volunteers do what they can to make sure that their stay on the island is as comfortable as possible. During his stay, he also had a chance to talk with refugee families who shared that they desire things like jobs, homes, and schooling for their children. On Lesvos, however, their lives are essentially on hold.
Ban went on to say that, ““Detention is not the answer,” he said. “It should end immediately. Let us work together to resettle more people, provide legal pathways, and better integrate refugees. I recognize the difficulties. But the world has the wealth, the capacity and the duty to meet this challenge.”