Statue of Liberty

Refugees gaze to sea from the base of Mytilene’s Statue of Liberty (Joe Stephens)

By Alexandra Markovich

The office of the mayor of Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos island, overlooks the Aegean Sea. Huge windows open onto the city’s port, where discarded boats that once carried refugees to the island are still docked. Less than 10 miles separate the island from Turkey’s coast.

Marios Andriotis-Konstantios, the senior advisor to the mayor of Mytilene, is quick to praise the local government for its treatment of some 3,000 refugees stranded on Lesbos after the EU-Turkey deal was made in March. Some wait for asylum applications to be processed in Greece, some to be relocated to countries like Germany, but most await deportation to Turkey.

In celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, Andriotis-Konstantios said the migrants on Lesvos enjoyed “exceptional festivities.” He said the mayor’s office ordered two tons of dates and commissioned a Syrian musical group.

“The festivities lasted for five days. Our biggest Greek Orthodox holiday lasts only three days!” Andriotis-Konstantios said, praising the efforts of the community to make Eid-al-Fitr special for refugees. Andriotis-Konstantios cites the celebration as only the island’s latest expression of hospitality.

 

boats seized

Boats seized from human smugglers line the harbor of Mytilene (Joe Stephens)

 

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