Bristol volunteer Lesbos migrant aid worker feels 'hunted'

By Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley
BBC News Online, Bristol

  • Published
Smashed car windowsImage source, Dav
Image caption,
The Bristol volunteer reported doctors had also been targeted in attacks carried out by locals

A couple who help migrants on a Greek island have been left "terrified" after feeling "hunted" by angry locals over the work and claim police do not help.

Dav, 40, and his girlfriend, Maisie arrived on Lesbos last week as part of the voluntary aid project they set up on the island in 2017.

But they have had to stop work for the first time because of clashes between Syrian refugees and residents.

The BBC has approached police for a comment on the Bristol couple's claims.

Greece has barred asylum applications because of a recent large increase in arrivals in Greek territory, from Turkey.

Dav, who asked the BBC not to use his and Maisie's surnames, has been delivering aid and relief through his project Refugee Arts Trail.

Image source, Dav
Image caption,
Dav from Bristol said aid organisations have been advising volunteers helping refugees in Lesbos to leave the island for their own safety

However, during the most recent visit he had to abandon his plans because he says local residents are directing their anger at volunteers and doctors delivering aid and relief.

He said residents have been posting the locations of volunteers on social media in an attempt to intimidate them and get them to leave.

Dav said he was also worried local police were not doing enough to protect volunteers.

"Places where non-governmental organisations (NGO's) are staying are being raided by locals, their volunteers are being questioned and targeted by police for trying to help refugees," he said.

"As a volunteer, you feel like you are being hunted here, it's terrifying."

Image source, Dav
Image caption,
Volunteers helping refugees in Lesbos, Greece

The situation comes after tens of thousands of migrants arrived on the Greek islands in 2015 and 2016, en-route from Syria to Europe.

But they are rising again and there are more than 40,000 migrants currently in the islands, prompting the intense local opposition.

Dav described feeling "completely depressed, anxious and sorrowful" at the current situation they and the migrants are faced with.

He said: "We came here to help people in what was already a bad situation and now feel heartbroken to be faced with something even worse, so what can we do?

"The situation on the island is beyond breaking point.

"You can't imagine the desperation we're feeling."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also been contacted for comment.