This beautiful Turkish tourist town is now home to boats stuffed with refugees and migrants headed for Lesbos

October 9, 2015                                                                                    PRI'S THE WORLD

Staring out from the high cliffs above the ancient Greek city of Assos in Turkey, now a beautiful tourist town, your vision merges with the vast blueness of the sky and Aegean Sea until it rests on the melodious green hills of the island of Lesbos in the distance. It’s a grand view that has captivated people for millennia.

Aristotle lived there for a time before leaving for Lesbos, where he and Theophrastus did seminal work classifying flora and fauna.
The ancient Theatre of Assos overlooking the Aegean Sea, with the nearby island of Lesbos on the horizon.
Credit: Vindobona/Wikimedia Commons

Today it’s also an excellent vantage point to observe boats stuffed with refugees and migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations leaving from camps run by the Turkish mafia. They are bound for Lesbos, only five miles away at the closest point. On the other side, a ragged group of NGOs, foreign and local volunteers and international media await them with long camera lenses, hugs and, if they’re lucky, some water, pieces of fruit and dry clothing.

The day I arrived in Assos to meet Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, some 50 boats carrying 3,500 refugees would reach Lesbos, adding to the 400,000 who have passed through Greece this year — 100,000 in August alone. Most of the Lesbos-bound boats left from five camps tucked into the pretty olive groves that dot the shoreline around Assos....



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