When talking about refugee camps on the Greek islands, most people think of overcrowded facilities and devastating living conditions. But in Leros the situation is different. On the island’s refugee camp, there is barbed wire, police officers and guards. However, unlike the reception centers in Lesvos and Samos, the small island of the 8,500 inhabitants and the 1,300 refugees does not show up on the newspaper headlines.
One of the reasons is that in Leros, locals and refugees coexist peacefully and it works better than elsewhere, says Boris Češirkov, UNHCR coordinator for the refugees on the Greek islands.
“It is not easy to accommodate more than 1,000 refugees on a small island: Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis or Africans,” says Boris Cesirkov. “Many Palestinians came here this year. And Leros managed just fine. Refugees and locals coexist peacefully. Locals and refugges interact with each other in everyday life. This is of course a small society. However, Leros is a model”, he concludes.