I have not even prepared a thank you speech, I never thought it would be me. I’m very happy, but this is not just my award, there are so many who have dropped everything they had in their hands and helped establish this new Norwegian NGO. I also hope that the price can help to focus on women on the run. And then I have to thank my family – I went to Greece for three days and came home as a completely different person. – Trude Jacobsen after receiving the prize 13. October 2018
A popular holiday destination for many Europeans, the Greek island Lesvos is also the gateway to the European Union for many refugees and migrants. In 2015, during the height of the influx, several thousand people landed on the island’s beaches on a daily basis. However, back then, Lesvos was an island of transit from Turkey to the Greek mainland and other European countries. Today, following EU’s heavily-criticised deal with Turkey and policies of containment, more than 10 000 refugees, the majority from war-torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, are trapped in precarious conditions on the island, while waiting out their asylum claims. Crucially, what is happening on Lesvos is a not merely or primarily a result of the inefficiency and mismanagement of the Greek asylum system, but rather a direct result of European countries’ hardening stance toward people fleeing war, persecution and poverty.
This has been the best day (apart from when my five children were born) and the worst day of my life! I am spotting for boats with binoculars and a first aid kit. Those were the first items I was handed when I met up with the English couple that coordinates and alerts volunteers when boats enter the shore. Yesterday, 4000 people arrived to the island in rubber boats. They pay about 1000 euro a person to join the boat. And another 100 for a life-jacket. The children are often just carrying inflatable swim rings! There are piles of life-jackets on every shore! – Trude Jacobsen, 30 August 2015.
A startling 65,5 million people are forcefully displaced worldwide, many of whom lose their lives when embarking on a journey to Europe’s shores. Today, more than 86% of the world’s refugees are hosted in low- and middle-income countries. So, the poorest countries in the world take in the most refugees. Have you ever wondered why that is?