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Prayer "Dying of Hope" in memory of the refugees of past and present days who have lost their lives on their way to Europe

August 17 2021 - LESBOS PREFECTURE, GREECE

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Lesvos, Mytilini, Northern Waterfront, Epàno Skala at the statue of Mykrasiatisa Mana

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Every year the Community of Sant’Egidio, together with local Churches and associations, organizes in many places in Europe the prayer service "Dying of Hope" in memory of more than 59.000 people who have died  in the Mediterranean Sea or in other immigration routes to Europe since 1990. A dramatic trend, which has worsened over the last year: since June 2020, 4071 people have lost their lives in the sea in an attempt to reach our continent.

On 17th of August the event takes place also in Lesvos, in Mytilini, to remember past and present migrations, the Great Catastrophe and todays’ refugee flows. Lesvos, although small, has been in the past and continues to be is a crucial symbol  in Europe of the  challenge of a new beginning and a new life for many refugees.

The need of finding practical ways to promote initiatives of solidarity and strengthen spiritual bonds between Churches and Countries who face similar challenges has brought in 2020 the Metropolis of Mytilene, Eressos and Plomari and the Community of Sant'Egidio to sign a Protocol of collaboration. The Community itself had enhanced aid programs on the island since 2019.

Today’s prayer, organized with the Metropolis and presided over by Metropolitan Iakovos, will be held at 12.00 AM at the Northern waterfront - Epàno Skala - Statue of Asia Minor Mother “Mikrasiatisa Mana”, a meaningful place recalling the refugee mothers who bravely crossed the waters to restart their lives after leaving their homes in Asia Minor, and the massive number of victims, whose memory is written in history and is at the very heart of modern Greece. During the open air ceremony some of the names of those who disappeared will be remembered.
The Community of Sant’Egidio is present on the island of Lesvos since 2019 with its volunteers (there are more than 250 throughout the 2021 summer), mostly young people, from various European countries: Portugal, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Hungary and Germany. They have come at their own expense to spend their holidays with the refugees on the island and support the Greek community engaged in sheltering and assisting those arriving by the sea. They are here to offer solidarity and friendship through food delivery, education and activities for children and families.

Sant'Egidio, in agreement with the Italian, French and Belgian governments, has also activated the Humanitarian Corridors Program, that allows legal transfer of refugees and asylum seekers to European Member States. In this framework, 3700 vulnerable people were already transferred from Lebanon and Ethiopia. Since September 2020, in agreement with European Commission and the Greek and Italian Governments, 100 asylum seekers, have reached so far Italy in the same framework. The Humanitarian Corridors are a self-financed initiative of integration of asylum seekers, based on sponsorship by the Churches and the civil society.