This is the coolest peace sign EVER.
On Jan. 1, the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF)-Greenpeace team on the Greek Island of Lesbos used life jackets to form a peace sign in the hills there, just outside of Molyvos. They are a tribute to refugees who crossed the Aegean Sea “who fled war, poverty and oppression this year,” according to Greenpeace. In addition, some of the jackets belonged to those who didn’t make it and died at sea before reaching freedom.
“The dump site stands as a statue, a silent reminder of the risks and that so many more still hold out hope of a safe crossing,” said Greenpeace.
Nearly 500,000 people had traversed the Aegean Sea to Lesbos—many who were Iraqis, Afghans, and Syrians—and several died: 97 in the eastern Mediterranean in November and 187 in December.
“They are the victims, casualties of their desperation and the ongoing failure of EU leaders to provide safe passage,” said Greenpeace.
What better a day to commemorate those who fled, or at least tried, than New Year’s Day? Over 100 volunteers (from groups such as Starfish, Sea-Watch, and the Dutch Refugee Boat Foundation), and 3,000 life jackets later, the peace sign was complete. Aww. And if that’s not teamwork, I don’t know what is.
The hillside overlooks the 10-kilometre area of water between Lesbos and Turkey and the sign measured 10 metres side-to-side.
You can see it being put together here. Pretty cool!
However, the peace sign then had to be removed (!).
“We had no permission for the sign to stay in the hills so we dismantled it and cleaned up the dump,” said Greenpeace’s Florian Schulz.
Over 500,000 people fled across the Aegean Sea in the past year alone, making up almost 60 percent of the 850,000 who got to Greece via boat in 2015. Even in December, more than 100,000 people made it across. However, more than 3,700 died while attempting to cross the sea.
In November, Greenpeace and MSF began rescue activities with the Greek Coast Guard and aided thousands of migrants and refugees get to shore safely. With hope, one day it’ll be much easier and the government will be on board.
So, what can we do to make a difference? Aside from going to volunteer, Greenpeace has a simpler idea we can do right now. “We also urge our supporters to share the peace sign image in honour of the refugees and migrants and as a way of thanks to the volunteers and local communities on Lesbos working to ensure that 2016 can start with a safe passage,” said Greenpeace.
All right, guys, let’s get to work blasting this peace sign all over the Internet.