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As we stepped off the ferry onto the Aegean island of Symi in late August, our thoughts were on sunbathing and sailing. But the first thing we saw was a group of what we soon discovered were Syrians carrying small backpacks holding those few possessions they hadn’t lost during the crossing from Turkey. A week later, the number of frightened, hungry and exhausted refugees had grown substantially; when we arrived there were about fifty, now there were around two hundred. An old man with gashes on his face sat bleeding in 30° heat for ten hours waiting for a doctor. He slumped forward, seemingly drunk from dehydration. He’d hit his face against the rocks when the Greek port police fired a shot in the air. Symi is the island closest to the Turkish mainland; the same thing is happening on many other outlying islands.

London Review of Books, 09/10/2014

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