Lesvos Solidarity was formally registered as an NGO in April 2016 but the story started back in 2012
“The Village of Alltogether”
In 2012, at the time of the economic crisis in Greece, the solidarity network “The Village of Altogether” was formed. Soon after, a growing number of refugees started to arrive in the island of Lesvos. They were not given adequate support and many were sleeping in streets and parks.
Lesvos Solidarity Timeline
The solidarity network “The Village of Altogether” is formed. The group starts hosting refugees on the site of “PIKPA”.
Pikpa camp is hosting 600 refugees a day. The group supports members of the local community by providing food and economic assistance.
Pikpa camp starts hosting the most vulnerable refugees in the island. The group distributes up to 3000 meals a day. Pikpa camp becomes a central distribution point for the whole island.
Lesvos Solidarity is formally registered as an NGO.
Lesvos Solidarity develops the Mosaik Support Centre.
Efi Latsoudi, core team member of Lesvos Solidarity, receives theNansen Refugee Award.
In response to the urgent need for shelter and basic support, the group took the initiative to start hosting refugees on the site of Pikpa camp. At the time, Pikpa camp was an abandoned children’s summer camp. It is situated near Mytilini airport and belongs to the state. The Municipality ceded Pikpa camp and soon “The Village of Altogether” was hosting hundreds of refugees on the site, offering basic medical and practical support. The response by the local society was unprecedented.
Pikpa camp was truly unique as the first open refugee camp in Greece. It was intended as a clear political statement against the detention of refugees and migrants in Greece, which was the norm. Pikpa camp was a plea for inclusion and integration of refugees in local society, for active participation.
It was and is a place of solidarity in action. Since Pikpa camp was run by Greeks who all lived in the Mytilini, the group was always quick and flexible to respond the everchanging needs.
In the autumn of 2014, Pikpa camp was hosting 600 refugees a day, even though the capacity was only 150 people. The group was also supporting members of the local community who were suffering due to the economic crisis by providing food and economic assistance to families in need.
From 2015 onwards Pikpa camp started hosting the most vulnerable refugees in the island. At the time of the huge numbers of boats arriving to the island, the group tried to assist wherever help was needed. Pikpa camp was a place of transit where people arrived from the boats, received some basic and urgent support as needed, and moved on.
Pikpa camp was also the only place who looked after families who had lost loved ones in shipwrecks, which unfortunately were frequent at the time. The group accompanied such people and assisted with funeral arrangements and the identification process as needed.
Beyond Pikpa camp, the group distributed up to 3000 meals a day to the camps, port and around town. They were distributing medicines and were supporting the local hospital and clinics. They were also active on the Southern shoreline, supporting boat landings. As the situation intensified in 2015, Pikpa camp became a central distribution point for the whole island, with a lot of donations and volunteers coming in from all over the world. Pikpa camp supported a range of individual volunteers and organisations, who distributed donations received in Pikpa camp (including food, clothing, personal hygiene products, sleeping bags, tents and more).
In the meantime, the group continued to develop Pikpa camp. Food distribution was better organised and the small wooden houses were equipped with kitchenettes and heating. A communal kitchen was set up. Residents were provided with medical care and psychological support. Additional activities were set up such as Greek and English language support classes.
Lesvos Solidarity Becomes An Official NGO
After the EU-Turkey statement came into force in March 2016, the number of refugees stuck in Lesvos dramatically increased. To respond to this changed reality and in order to effectively manage the donations in money and manpower that kept streaming in from every part of the world, part of the group of “The Village of All Together” founded Lesvos Solidarity as an official NGO. Since then, Lesvos Solidarity has continued to develop initiatives to support refugees and locals, inside and outside Pikpa camp, such as our Mosaik Support Centre. The group also continues to be a hub for political actions and mobilisation, denouncing the impact of the EU–Turkey deal.
In 2016, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, honoured the heroic efforts of Greek volunteers during the 2015 refugee crisis on the island of Lesvos by giving its Nansen Refugee Award to Efi Latsoudi, Human Rights activist and core team member of Lesvos Solidarity.