Lighthouse Relief is based in a very small community on Lesvos, Greece. Founded in response to the thousands of refugees arriving every day in rubber dinghies, the organisation is embedded in the local community providing a humanitarian response to the crisis. ECO Relief was formed in response to the huge amount of refuse left as a result of the refugee landings. The work not only protects the local environment but also the local main economies of fishing and tourism.
The island of Lesvos is perhaps best known for the many species of migratory birds that find shelter in its ecosystem. Nature-lovers are captivated by the biodiversity of the island’s wetlands, rivers and rich chestnut forests that are perfect for hikes, mountain biking and bird watching. Life jackets, rubber dinghies, outboard engines and the waste generated by thousands of refugees arriving on the island mount up on its beaches, polluting habitats on the cliffs and shore. The situation is compounded by items discarded by the local population, as well as by general commercial waste washed up by winds and currents.
The goal of the project is to use the summer and autumn months to work with teams of dedicated volunteers to clean up beaches of the refuse left by boats arriving, and to extend their networks of partnerships and collaborations that allow them to reuse and upcycle the material collected, while strengthening their relationships with the local community. Following on from their successful 2019 programme, the objective in 2020 is to clean approximately 15 km of coastline, focusing on beaches cleaned in previous years and requiring further clean ups, as well as new beaches not covered by the program in the past, focussing on inaccessible beaches which are not cleaned by the municipality. This is the third year that EOCA has been able to support this project, thanks, in 2020, to an anonymous donor.
It is with much regret that this project has been unable to proceed this year due to difficulties of access on the island, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Light House Relief is continuing its dedicated, and much needed, work elsewhere in Greece. We all hope that the dedicated team at Lighthouse Relief will be able to return to Lesvos in the near future, to continue their invaluable help to refugees and communities on the island.