Jude Monson, one of our committee members has arrived in Chios, this is her update from her first day volunteering yesterday 18/01/2016
Just got to bed after 18hrs Non stop! Was working with the Norwegian refugee council this morning in the registration camp helping to give refugees dry clothes when they arrived soaking wet. Then spent a while shifting some aid around to prepare for tonight. Went and met some local volunteers and brought them a gas heater, then went back to the kitchen and helped cook dinner. Took food to the camp and fed 350 people lentil soup with bread, and 100ish cups of hot sweet Chai. Just back from meeting Kostas- a local guy who’s receiving our containers. It’s really cold here now- Lisa has gone to bed with a hat on and she is as tough as they come! The locals reckon more boats will arrive tonight as the winds have dropped so not expecting much sleep before the phone rings again!
Here is the latest blog from Andy and Fran in Chios:
Getting ready for more boats
There has been a storm since Friday evening which should stop boats coming – they probably can’t leave the Turkish shore because of high waves. Sadly we hear today at least one boat tried and four children, including a baby died. The storm is expected to pass by tonight and we are expecting a lot of boats as people are probably waiting in ever increasing numbers to take the treacherous journey across the water.
Spanish Coastguards are negotiating with other voluntary coastguards to be able to patrol the water. They currently have no permission to do anything except respond to an emergency – and only in Greek waters. They would like to patrol and guide boats to safety into harbours, however, for now, if they were to do that it would be seen as trafficking as it is an offence for people to cross the water. All we can do is welcome people who arrive safely as that is not breaking any laws.
While the storm continues, the coastguards gave us life saving training today – we hope we never need it – we certainly do not intend to ever go into the water but plan to be on the shore waiting. Still – it is best to have as much training as possible for any eventuality.
Two new volunteers took in their first boat at 1.30 in the morning two days ago and there was one person in shock and a woman with a broken leg (this had happened before she got on the boat). It was dark and they were on their own with the boat for 30 minutes before other help and medical assistance arrived.
It all ended well and everyone on board was safe. Meanwhile another boat had been taken to a different part of shore by traffickers who then sped back to Turkey with the boat. Some people puncture boats if they see that happening to prevent them being used again. Others feel that if a boat is used again, that could be another 40 people fleeing the dangers of Syria so it is good – there are two sides to every argument, so we will just stay out and try to help where we can.
Keep up to date with Andy and Fran here: http://nixseaman.tumblr.com