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During lunch hour, a restaurant owner at Lesbos’ scenic port of Skala Sikamias waits in vain for customers to arrive.

By Hayley Roth

Take a walk down the main street of Mytilene, the capital of the Greek island of Lesbos, and you’ll see freshly-scrubbed storefronts, colorful awnings and potted plants. Hotels, restaurants and travel agencies face the placid waters of the Aegean. Docked boats scrape against the sidewalks. Shopkeepers lounge in doorways, squinting at the sun. But the scene is incomplete.

“We don’t have tourists,” explained Diamonto Kordogianni, a young woman who works at a waterfront kiosk that sells information pamphlets, t-shirts, and trinkets targeted toward vacationers. Its shelves are overstocked and no one is buying. “It’s difficult. We don’t have jobs.”

 

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Kordogianni’s kiosk on Mytilene’s main street ibrimming with merchandise.  

 

Lesbos is situated a mere five miles off the western coast of Turkey. In the past year, the island witnessed the influx of more than 850,000 refugees from the Middle East, all seeking asylum in the European Union. According to Marios Andriotis, senior advisor to the mayor of Lesbos, the crisis peaked in September 2015.

 

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