The Hellenic Rescue Team and Efi Latsoudi of “PIKPA village” on Lesvos joint winners of humanitarian honour.
Konstantinos Mitragas on behalf of the Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT) and Efi Latsoudi from “PIKPA village”, a community-run accommodation area on the Greek island of Lesvos were both chosen for their tireless volunteer work during the 2015 refugee crisis on Greece’s shores: the HRT for their round-the-clock efforts to save refugees and migrants in distress from the sea, and Efi Latsoudi for her compassion and care for the most vulnerable refugees and migrants arriving on the island of Lesvos.
Over 850,000 people arrived in Greece by sea in 2015 with more than 500,000 of them arriving on the island of Lesvos. In October 2015, arrivals peaked at more than 10,000 per day, as conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq continued to uproot people from their homes. Sadly, over 270 people died in Greek waters over the year.
Speaking about their nomination for the award, UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi said:
“Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict and persecution last year made the desperate bid to reach Europe in search of safety, many risking their lives in unseaworthy boats and dinghies, in a journey which all too often proved insurmountable.
Both the Hellenic Rescue Team and Efi Latsoudi refused to stand by as they witnessed the dramatic humanitarian situation unfolding on their shores. Their efforts characterize the massive public response to the refugee and migrant emergency in Greece and across Europe, in which thousands of people stood in solidarity with those forced to flee, and the humanity and generosity of communities around the world who open their hearts and homes to refugees.”
The 2016 UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award ceremony will be held on 3 October in Geneva, Switzerland.