Last week, David Morrissey, actor on “The Walking Dead,” visited Lesvos, Greece with UNHCR and rescued Syrian refugees on a boat that was drifting in the Mediterranean for 10 hours.
According to UNHCR, there are more than 19.5 million people in extreme conditions from war that need help. Currently, with global dislocation at an all-time high, more than 4 million are Syrian refugees.
This year alone, 80,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Greece in hopes of finding safety. Morrissey took part in a rescue system with Greek coast guards who save up to 15 boats a day.
“There is a new Greek tragedy unfolding, and I am deeply shocked by what I have seen and the stories shared with me. The main protagonists of this human drama are Syrian refugees who make up over 60 percent of the arrivals to Greece and are facing incredibly high risk odds to cross the sea from Turkey,” Morrissey said.
Aside from visiting camps and tending to Syrian refugees, the British actor’s response to this crisis was to board coast guard boats and travel across the ocean to search for Syrian refugees to save their lives.
In a video posted by 5 News, Morrissey can be seen on a lifeboat helping crying children aboard. The actor patted their backs and reassured them several times of their safety.
“So, that was pretty intense,” Morrissey said after the rescue. “We got all of these people off the boat. They don’t know how long they’ve been in the water. The children, particularly, are very traumatized by the event.”
Many children, like some that Morrissey rescued, travel to safer countries without the security of their parents. Morrissey spoke to one of these children — a 13-year-old Syrian boy named Mohammed.
For two years, Mohammed has been traveling with a man he refers to as his uncle, Morrissey said. The boy has journeyed to Turkey, Iraq and Greece, where he met Morrissey.
According to Morrissey, Mohammed was very frightened of the future, yet still hopeful. Exiting the boats, many Syrian refugees, like Mohammed, are often welcomed by Greek locals.
Many Greeks offer help to the incoming Syrian refugees in the form of food, water and shelter. One of the volunteers, a woman named Melinda from Molyvos, Greece, said that she speaks to the coast guard daily, so that she can prepare a proper amount of sandwiches for the refugees entering the island. Despite her humanitarian efforts, she and the country are still struggling to cope with this massive influx of people.
“We have the same number of people who arrived here in one year arriving in just one day,” she said. “We are all doing our best, and people’s generosity and support is astounding. But, it is too much to cope with it all at this level.”
Greece’s tourism industry is taking a large hit. At its worst, 50,000 tourists a day were withdrawing vacation rentals to the Greek Isles. The industry is suffering so badly that Greek politicians are trying to spin the refugee crisis as a plus for tourists.
According to the European Union, this crisis will not end soon. As some refugees attempt to flee to wealthier areas, new resources put in place may keep them from leaving the country. Countries like Hungary and Macedonia have made plans to strengthen their borders, so that other countries like Greece are refugees’ only hope.
With fewer and fewer places to escape to safety, Greece’s notoriously beautiful beaches have become littered with life jackets and the remains of rubber dinghies, Morrissey said. The refugee camps, once a safe zone for its occupants, are now in danger of disease, and the toilets were unusable.
Morrissey said he was completely shocked by the conditions that the Syrian refugees must endure because their homeland is not safe anymore. The UNHCR, with the help of Morrissey and many others, offers protection, assistance, emergency response, shelter and durable solutions for this ongoing crisis.
The agency has helped millions of people and continues to create viable answers for people in need. With millions of displaced people, the organization’s aid is needed more than ever. For more information about the UNHCR and how to help, visit unhcr.org.
– Fallon Lineberger
Sources: Breitbart News, Daily Mail, Look to the Stars, The Guardian, UNHCR 1, UNHCR 2, UNHCR 3, YouTube