Joanna Kakissis | KUOW News and Information

Joanna Kakissis

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The wide, white tent pitched in the mud is filled with exhausted Syrians and Iraqi families crowded on cots. They have been camping out at the border between Greece and the tiny Balkan nation of Macedonia for weeks.

Moyaad Saad, a 43-year-old former civil servant from Baghdad, has been here since mid-February. He's cradling his infant daughter, Zahara, who is starting to fuss.

For Greek citizen Katerina Bouretzi, seeing the leaders of the eastern and western churches together on her island of Lesbos this weekend was a gift.

"The refugee crisis put Lesbos on the map but it also isolated us from other Europeans, who like to blame us for everything," she said. "They blamed us for allowing the refugees to cross the Aegean, and I thought, 'What are we supposed to do, drown them?' And then they blamed us for being nice to them after they arrived here."

The migrants on rafts began landing on the rocky shores of Lesbos a year ago. In a pretty village of colorful fishing boats, one of the first people they saw was Efstratia Mavrapidou, 89, who was born here. She's fragile, her eyes clouded by cataracts. But she made her way to shore by cane.

She wanted to be there to embrace the migrants crowded onto those rafts, especially the young mothers who wept as they clasped tiny, sea-drenched babies.

On a cold, rainy morning a few weeks ago, eight black inflatable rafts, loaded with migrants, bob in the waters off the northern shore of the Greek island of Lesbos.

One of them isn't moving.

Vassilis Hantzopoulos of the Hellenic Red Cross points to the horizon.

"This boat up there?" he says. "No engine. Failure of the engine. That's it. So they ask for help from the coast guard."

A Norwegian rescue boat with the European Union's border agency, Frontex, heads toward the distressed raft.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Three teenage boys are lugging boxes of donated shoes into a stately neoclassical home in Mytilini, the capital of the Greek island of Lesbos.

Two of the boys are Syrian, and the other is Algerian. For the moment, they live in this house, a shelter for underage asylum-seekers traveling alone.

Inside, Christina Dimakou, a high-energy young lawyer, greets them. "Kalimera!" she says, Greek for "good day" and flashes a smile. The boys repeat the word, giggling.

Pages