A Sea of Arrivals


© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2618/Gilbertson VII

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October 2015: Record numbers of refugees and migrants continue to pass through Greece en route to other Western Europe destinations, and the country remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean.
Arrivals by sea this year have already passed half a million. There were more than 153,000 in September alone.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2618/Gilbertson VII

Over 27,500 people have arrived on the Aegean Islands, and the island of Lesbos is seeing increasing waves of refugees coming to its shores. Volunteers on the shore encourage incoming refugees arriving in a large inflatable boat, near Skala Eressos, a village on Lesbos, in the North Aegean region.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2558/Gilbertson VII

Newly arrived refugees, including children, disembark from a large rubber boat on the island’s shores, near Skala Eressos, with the help of volunteers. One in every four asylum seekers in Europe so far this year has been a child.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2532/Gilbertson VII

A total of 110,000 children sought asylum between January and July — an average of over 18,000 children every month. Volunteers carry children ashore near the town of Mithymna.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2629/Gilbertson VII

The perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing often exacts an enormous physical, as well as emotional, toll. A young man helps a refugee in distress on the shores near Skala Eressos.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2619/Gilbertson VII

Kinan Kadouni, from Belgium, laughs with the Syrian boy he is carrying ashore near the village, on a day of especially rough seas. A Syrian refugee as well, Kinan came to Lesbos to offer his help.

“It would be good for the refugees who come by boat to find someone welcoming them,” he said.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2529/Gilbertson VII

Volunteers  — both local and international — in the country play an important role in assisting arriving refugees and migrants. On the shores near Mithymna, a thermal blanket from Darcia Christiana Fleur of the Netherlands helps a newly arrived refugee girl stay warm.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2549/Gilbertson VII

With the arrival of first winter storms, crossing the Aegean Sea (part of the Mediterranean Sea) is becoming especially rough. After hitting a rock, this rubber boat began to deflate as it neared Lesbos. Its passengers received help from volunteers to get to the shore, near Mithymna.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2612/Gilbertson VII

Rough seas also left many voyagers sick, including from dehydration and the cold. Wrapped in a thermal blanket, refugee Abdul Rahman from the Syrian Arab Republic’s capital, Damascus, sits cold and traumatized on the shore, near Skala Eressos.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2587/Gilbertson VII

“…I made it to Greece,” Ali Abdul-Halim, 17, told his parents in Lebanon by mobile phone, after he and his brother, Ahmad, 15, reached shores near Skala Eressos.

The boys, whose parents sent them to Europe for their safety, were the only unaccompanied minors among the children crossing with them.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2555/Gilbertson VII

Newly arrived child refugees shelter under an emergency blanket on a shore near Mithymna. They have also received food and water upon landing after the dangerous sea crossing.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2559/Gilbertson VII

In addition to distributing emergency blankets, dry clothes and other basics, volunteers on the ground also provide incoming refugees with emotional support. A volunteer hugs a newly arrived woman refugee who has just come ashore, near Skala Eressos Village.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2560/Gilbertson VII

A man and a woman cry and comfort each other after arriving safely ashore, near Skala Eressos.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–2630/Gilbertson VII

Despite the uncertainties, many of the refugees and migrants are willing to brave whatever dangers and hardships may lie ahead in their quest to reach Western Europe. Refugees who arrived by boat near the village take little time to rest before leaving on foot to continue their journey.


Photography by Ashley Gilbertson/VII Photo for UNICEF, written by Olga Chambers, edited by Christine Nesbitt.

Learn more about the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.

*Source: UNICEF. Go to Original

2015 Human Wrongs Watch

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