The sun is beating down overhead, and I have been sitting on the hard, dusty tarmac for over three hours. Beside me is a 24 year old single Syrian women. Last night we received a call from her; she is here with her three year old boy, sleeping on the street, and was frightened and alone. We came in the middle of the night to fetch her, taking her to safe accommodation and providing her and her son with a hot shower, food and a place to rest. Now we are in the reception line in Vial Camp trying to find her a place to live in the camp.
Around me are men, women and children, sitting patiently on their UNHCR mats, surrounded by their few meagre belongings. Some of them have been here, sleeping out at night, for three days. They are newly arrived asylum seekers, but there is no room to house them. Once registered they have been told there is nothing to be done. Many have started to walk to the nearest town, over 2 hours on foot, carrying their bags and children. They will likely sleep on the street. We have galvanised a team to find these people to give food and bedding, and do what we can to help them.
Later I visit Souda Camp. A concerned father approaches me. His little girl, aged three, has a high fever, and is having trouble breathing. The official medical team have left for the day. What do I do? Luckily I am parked nearby. I take father and daughter to the hospital. The doctor can treat her. We go later to fetch medication and some dry, warm clothes before returning to camp. I shall visit them in the morning.
Today, as I arrive back at my room, I hear a shout. “Boat, Boat”. An inflatable RIB, totally unfit for purpose and weighed down in the water with its precious cargo of refugees, is being towed across the bay by the coastguard. Just then my team drives past; they have been following it since it was spotted trying to land on rocks in the south of the island; they will meet it as it docks in port, with cars loaded with emergency supplies. The boat has over 60 occupants; 14 are children, the youngest only 2 weeks old. Many of them are soaking wet, and all are in shock. They were challenged by the coastguard while crossing, who tried to sink the boat by making it take in water. We change them into dry clothes, and give them hot food and drinks. We are barely finished when they are given orders to get in line. They will be taken on to Vial for the long wait for registration.
We clear up and return to the warehouse for fresh supplies. It is a calm night so we remain alert for another boat crossing.