Day 26: I feared there would be bodies.
On my drive “home” last night, along the shore, I suddenly heard a scene of chaos hidden in the darkness.
In the moonlight, I could see a boat had just landed on the rocks. A night-watch ambulance was there, but no backup had arrived. I pulled my car over in a ditch and ran down to the frantic, crying voices coming from the beach. The medics were working on a baby, and after I searched the water for unconscious bodies, I checked the adults, one by one, for medical emergencies. The stable health of the hypothermic baby was soon confirmed, and we brought everyone up to the road to reassess their safety and wellbeing. When backup arrived, I returned to the boat to confirm everyone was accounted for, and I found two human smugglers, desperately trying to restart the boat's motor to return to Turkey. I retreated. A voice from the crowd on the road yelled, "Catch them!! You have to catch them!!” The smugglers jumped into the dark waves, reached shore, and made a run for the woods on the other side of the road. Three Greek fishermen ran after them, and when the smugglers reached into their pockets for weapons, I quickly ducked back into the darkness, fearing gunshots were imminent. Inexplicably, the smugglers surrendered. The police finally arrived, confiscated the smugglers' weapons (two knives, no guns), handcuffed the men to each other and rushed them to the police station.
The baby was reunited with her mother, the 40+ refugees boarded a UNHCR bus to Moria, and the nightscape became eerily peaceful again.
These refugees survived. In the first 26 days of 2016, 149+ have not.
Tomorrow is another day.