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Lesbos: The refugee crisis in 2015; the island today |

In 2015 and 2016, tens of thousands of people, escaping war, violence and economic instability in their home countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa arrived on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey. Hundreds of people drowned while attempting this sea crossing.

The influx of refugees and migrants drastically decreased after the European Union and Turkey signed a deal in March 2016 to curb the influx of refugees entering Europe and the closure of the so-called Balkan route.

In 2017, landscapes around Lesbos are vastly different – seemingly devoid of human presence when compared with the past two years.

Today, there are still nearly 5,000 refugees stranded on Lesbos in Moria refugee camp, after arriving safely on the beaches of the island in 2015 and 2016.

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October 21, 2015 – A Syrian couple reach the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos after travelling from the Turkish coast and safely crossing the Aegean Sea in a dinghy.

February, 2017 – Abandoned life jackets used by tens of thousands refugees who crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos in the period between 2015 to 2016.

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October 23, 2015 – Afghan families walk on a rainy day, minutes after safely arriving in Lesbos by boat after travelling during bad weather.

February, 2017 – A car belonging to the Portuguese Guarda Nacional Republicana (the National Republican Guard) as part of FRONTEX, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, patrols the shore roads between Skala Sikaminea and Molyvos on the island of Lesbos.

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October 19, 2015 – A young Syrian refugee with her mother receives help from a doctor from an international NGO, moments after arriving in Lesbos.

February, 2017 – The road that connects the Skala Sikaminea region with the town of Mytilini, where Lesbos’ main port is located and ferries come and go to the Greek mainland. Hundreds of thousand refugees walked this road in the period of 2015 to 2016 after arriving in Lesbos.

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October 18, 2015 – A Syrian family is seen at a beach on the island of Lesbos after arriving safely with other Syrian refugees. 

February, 2017 – The empty beach under the moonlight with the shores of Turkey on the horizon.

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October 21, 2015 – A Syrian woman on a beach in Lesbos.

February, 2017 – The empty shore on Lesbos in the early evening.

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October 18, 2015 – A Syrian refugee mother comforts her children after arriving in Lesbos from Turkey.

February, 2017 – A streetlamp illuminates an empty road in the early hours of the evening.

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October 16, 2015 – A pregnant woman is helped by volunteers and members of international NGOs as she disembarks from a rubber dinghy after arriving in Lesbos. Her husband is on her left. 

February, 2017 – The empty shorelines of Greece and Turkey.

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October 18, 2015 – An Iraqi refugee after disembarking from a dinghy with his family and other refugees.

February, 2017 – A local resident of Lesbos drives his car on the empty shore road.

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October 16, 2015 – A Syrian refugee with her family crying as they walk away from the dangerous inflatable boat after crossing the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast to the shores of Lesbos. 

February, 2017 – The empty shores of the Aegean.

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October 21, 2015 – Syrian refugees are assisted by local and foreign volunteers on the shores of Lesbos.

February, 2017 – The Aegean Sea that lies between Turkey and Greece, as seen from Lesbos.


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