On a beach in Greece an old woman shivers while singing a lullaby to an infant. The child is cold too, having journeyed across the Aegean Sea in a rubber dinghy, a craft unsuitable for such a dangerous traverse. For thousand of refugees, the island of Lesbos has become the gateway to Europe, a continent far removed from the bloodshed of Syria and the four-year savagery of the civil war.
Men and women arrive on Sykamia beach, west of the port of Mytilene. Many carry children too young to remember what they left behind. Volunteers help the migrants as they step off the ocean and onto land. Many crowd around small, hastily built fires, wet newborns swaddled against the wind. On Eftalou Beach, a doctor working for an NGO checks a baby. Further down the beach, eight-month-old twins lie on blankets on the sand. They are the innocents, involuntary participants in Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.
Last month the European Union promised to spend $1 billion relocating refugees. More can be done. Greece will open its first “hotspot” reception centre on the beleaguered island to help process the influx of displaced, while Greek premier Alexis Tsipras has vowed to upgrade refugee facilities by next month. Many will move onto Europe in the hope of finding safety and a place to raise their young. For now, they huddle on the beach, exhausted but safe, clinging to the children for whom they make the perilous trek.