Refugees heading to Greece on people smugglers’ boats are given a ‘migrants handbook’ packed with tips, maps, phone numbers and advice about getting across Europe.
Among discarded life jackets and punctured rubber dinghies, Sky News discovered a tattered copy of the unique travel guide washed up on a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos.
The booklet’s cover features a photograph of a young man on a beach at sunset, looking longingly out to sea, with oars at his feet as he prepares to make the treacherous crossing.
The ‘rough guide’ is written in Arabic and contains phone numbers of organisations which might help refugees making the journey, such as the Red Cross and UNHCR.
Among those behind the booklet is an organisation called w2eu, which means ‘Welcome To Europe’.
Sonia, who did not want to give her surname, is a volunteer with w2eu and told Sky News: “Activists from our network distribute the guides for free in Turkey”.
She explained one of the aims of the booklet is to help those who get into trouble on the water.
They can call a 24-hour hotline number provided in the guide, volunteers then pass their details to the relevant coastguard.
“We take information about how many people are in the boats if they get into trouble” she said.
“It’s a life-saving service we give to refugees. They are going to go anyway, so it’s better if we give them advice.”
Arabic speaker Sonia takes calls from her home in Austria and is one of a number of volunteers.
“We are a big group of about 100 people” she said. “We are based across Europe and North Africa.”
The pocket-sized guide has a handy map of Europe detailing the areas boats tend to land in.
Marked in red are what it describes as “detention/reception/screening sites”.
On the back page are photographs of sun-drenched Greek islands, the main port on Lesbos, Mitilini, and a smiling man alongside the caption: “When I arrived at the shores of Mitilini I came to understand that I am no child anymore.”
W2eu’s website says “We welcome all travellers on their difficult trip and wish you all a good journey – because freedom of movement is everybody’s right!”.
It goes on to say they aim to offer contacts and counselling to refugees and migrants: “At the outer borders of Europe, people are refused entry, they are imprisoned and deported.
“Nevertheless people are coming. W2eu.info is supporting you who come to Europe in your struggle for a better life”.