Daily Management Review

Greek Islanders Likely be Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize


Greek Islanders Likely be Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
With the support of their national government, Greek islanders who have been on the frontline of the refugee crisis are to be nominated for the Nobel peace prize.

Those who live on the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea were the ones to receive most of the 900,000 refugees who were scared, soaked and travelling in rickety boats and who entered Europe last year.
The islanders are in line to be honored with one of the world’s most esteemed awards which includes fishermen who gave up their work to rescue people from the sea. A submission is being drafted in favor of awarding the prize to the people of Lesbos, Kos, Chíos, Samos, Rhodes and Leros by eminent academics from the universities of Oxford, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell and Copenhagen.
Those behind the plan have already met the Greek minister for migration, Yiannis Mouzalas, who they say has offered his government’s full support even though the nomination deadline is 1 February.

280,000 signatures have been amassed in a petition on the website of the grassroots campaign group, Avaaz, in favour of the nomination.

“On remote Greek islands, grandmothers have sung terrified little babies to sleep, while teachers, pensioners and students have spent months offering food, shelter, clothing and comfort to refugees who have risked their lives to flee war and terror,” the petition says.

It is understood the academics, whose identities will be revealed in the coming days, will implore the Nobel committee members to accept their nomination, while the official nomination letter is yet to be finalized.

The islanders responded to the unfolding tragedy of the refugee crisis with “empathy and self-sacrifice”, opening their homes to the dispossessed, risking their lives to save others and taking care of the sick and injured even as the country itself was already dealing with its own economic crisis, the supports of the nomination would say.

A striking illustration of the valour of those in the islands was the image of Antonis Deligiorgis, a 34-year-old Greek army sergeant, rescuing an Eritrean refugee from the turbulent waters off Rhodes in December.  
It is likely that the “solidarity networks” on the islands – groups of volunteers who organised to help the refugees – or individuals within groups will be the official nominees as only individuals or organisations are eligible to win the Nobel prize.
Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan who won the prize for their efforts in seeking peace in Northern Ireland in 1967 is being set as a precedent. It was seen as a reward for all those who sought reconciliation during the most troubled years.
Accommodation, hygiene packs, food, dry clothes and help with the next steps for refugees was provided by the volunteer networks on the Greek islands. The tone across Europe towards the refugees’ plight was set by the the instincts of the majority of islanders.
 “The people involved in the solidarity networks organised and helped the desperate when the governments weren’t even willing to recognise that the there was a crisis. By opening their hearts the islanders sent a powerful message that humanity is above races, above nations,” Spyro Limneos, an activist in Greece for Avaaz who distributed aid on the islands said.
 One of the organizers of the Solidarity Networks, Matina Katsiveli, 61, a retired judge who lives on Leros, welcomed the move but said there was “reward enough in the smiles of the people we help”.