One of the side stories of the Refugee Story photo project, The Trash presents pictures and stories of one tragic impact of the influx of refugees on the island of Lesvos in Greece.
Lesvos, paradise on Earth and renown tourist destinations for its amazing landscapes and beaches. It has been famous in the news this year for another reason than its beautiful mountains. Being very close to Turkey makes Lesvos a strategic entry point for the refugees in the European Union. Thousands of refugees cross the Aegean Sea every week on tiny dinghy boats to reach the shores of Lesvos and this leaves an important mark as all the boats and life jackets are left where they land.
It is impossible to reuse safely either the boats or the jackets (which are usually fake replicas anyway) and refugees are not in the position to clean or manage the trash on the island. Municipal infrastructures are not prepared to manage such an important and unusual amount of trash which is accumulating dangerously. This accumulation creates an important threat for the fragile ecosystem of the island and its waters as well as a threat for the social balance.
Many of the locals depend of tourism to live and even if they had nothing against refugees, they consider their arrivals as a threat to their island and livelihood. This creates unnecessary tensions between the two groups and it is crucial to find a solution to the trash before the situation gets even worse.
On all levels, it is beneficial for the refugees, the locals and the environment to get rid of all the trash caused by the arrivals of the boats. Some volunteer organizations are working hard to clean the beaches but the municipality, government and bigger NGOs need to be involved to find a long term solution. With the tourist season starting again next Spring, everyone is looking forward to solving the problem.
All images are taken on the island of Lesvos, Greece.