Friday, October 6, 2017

Dispatch from Moria Refugee Camp: A Crisis within a Crisis

I recently returned from Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece, where I served as a project lawyer with European Lawyers in Lesvos, a legal aid organization that serves refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Middle East and North Africa. The experience of working with refugees, who toiled for weeks or even months to reach the gateway to Europe, was moving on many fronts. These refugees landed on the shores of Lesvos after fleeing from the most atrocious crimes of the twenty-first century, including genocide, torture, sexual slavery and other war crimes.

Some refugees in Moria have lived in tents such as this one for as long as eight or nine months, pending decisions on their asylum applications from the European Asylum Support Office.
While at Moria, I worked with a team of attorneys from France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Spain and the U.K. serving asylum seekers. Throughout the day, we were inundated with inquiries, clients and calls. We saw victims of torture fleeing their countries due to political or religious persecution; unaccompanied minors seeking to be reunited with their families; families that dodged bullets and bombs while fleeing to Turkey; asylum seekers that have been kidnapped and held in ISIS indoctrination camps before being released; Iraqis who have been captured, detained and flagellated by militias because they belonged to the wrong religious sect or ethnic group; Yezidis who have been raped and forced into sexual slavery. These clients come to us with visible scars of war, but their hope for a future is unconquerable.

Photographed (second from the right) with with ELIL’s team of project lawyers
The Zambakari Advisory, LLC, a consulting firm with a focus on the Middle East and Africa, recently published my essay on Moria Refugee Camp, the refugee crisis and ways that you can help. Read it at Please share it with friends and colleagues who want to learn what they can do to relieve suffering and restore normalcy to lives impacted by war.