The actress and activist praised Greeks for their response, which is a lesson in humanity.
Greece has been attracting high-profile visitors for the last few months, as it has become the entry point for thousands of refugees arriving from war-torn Syria.
Artists, actors, celebrities, business leaders and activists travel to the refugee centres to show their support for the volunteers and the NGOs that assist those in need, bringing international media attention to the refugee crisis.
Latest among them is Oscar-winning British actress Vanessa Redgrave, who flew to Athens, seeking to get a first hand account of the refugee crisis that has captivated the world.
On Tuesday she visited the refugee camp in Elaionas, in the Athens region, escorted by the mayor of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis, the Minister of Immigration, Giorgos Mouzalas and actress Mimi Denissi (who is currently presenting a play that she wrote about the Great Fire of Smyrna and the violent deportation of the Greek Population, which Redgrave saw the previous night).
At the media conference that followed, the 78-year-old actress urged the world to help debt-stricken Greece to provide shelter to hundreds of thousands of refugees who are in search of a better life in Europe and the west.
“Greece can’t solve this problem and yet Greece has given us the most important lesson of all, the lesson of humanity”, she said, thanking personally “all those helping the refugees from all over the world”.
A life-long advocate of human rights, Redgrave has been a vocal political activist since the ’60s and ’70s, when she was a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party; in the last decade she has campaigned against the Iraq War and the ‘War on Terror’.
The International Organization for Migration released statistics for 2015. In a statement, it said that 3,771 refugees died while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe last year and 1,004,356 in total arrived by sea – a fivefold increase from 2014 when 219,000 people made the sea journey.
Of these totals, about 850,000 people entered Greece last year, mainly via the frontier islands of Lesvos, Chios, Kalymnos, Samos, Leros, Tilos and others along the Turkish coasts.