‘My son in refugee war zone’

Picture taken by a Spalding man of refugees arriving in Greece.
Picture taken by a Spalding man of refugees arriving in Greece.
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A Spalding mum has described the horrific scenes her son witnessed as he sat on a beach in Mytilene and watched boat loads of Syrian refugees arriving in Greece.

Her son is taking his annual holiday with family at the capital and port of the island of Lesbos, where the refugees are registering after fleeing their war-torn homeland.

The Western world may have been shocked by the images of a Syrian boy washed up on a beach in Turkey, but her son says the horrors seen in the papers and on TV do not even scratch the surface of the reality of being there.

In a text on Friday he said: “I woke up to shooting this morning (tear gas). The people have left the port area. They are now walking the five miles to the camp.”

On Monday he said he and his partner were on the beach when so many boats arrived he couldn’t count them.

His mother said: “He said the refugees seem to get in a panic as they get near to the beach and get into the water.

“He felt he had to go down and help and lift the children out. The refugees are so pleased to arrive, but life there isn’t easy for them.

“He said he fetched 40 lollies and water and rolls, but so much help is needed it’s like ‘a needle in a haystack’.

“Some of the refugees who land on the other side of the island have had a 20-mile walk to Mytilene in temperatures of 40C.

“It’s against the law to pick them up and empty buses are passing families with small children.

“I can’t imagine what it must feel like. What you see on TV and in the papers is horrendous, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface.

“When you see it in real life it’s totally dramatic.

“On the news it said there were 20,000 migrants in Lesbos and they are all heading for Mytilene to register to get to Athens. Everywhere there are tents and the refugees are using the sea water to wash.

“Clothes are hanging over seats along the harbour and the whole area looks like a war zone. My son has called me a lot while he’s been away. He’s not one to exaggerate but I think he just likes to call to unload.

“I think he’ll be glad to get back this time and I’ll certainly be glad to see him.”

Lincolnshire County Council says it is preparing for an influx of refugees after the Government announced it would allow 20,000 Syrians to settle in the UK.

The county council says it has not been given any precise information from the Government but is preparing for any contingency.

Tony Hill, of the county council, said: “The government has yet to inform us about its plans for the Syrian refugees.

“However, we need to be prepared so we can react quickly and positively when the plans are announced.

“Local authorities and local services will be working together over the next few days to put a plan in place to ensure that support services are available to help the refugees and their families should they be required.”

Are you a local group supporting refugees and migrants? Tell us how you are helping. Do you think Lincolnshire should help? Email spaldingeditor@jpress.co.uk