Known for mythology, olympics, white houses, great islands, Greece has been a home to some of these places we've all learned to love. But in the past years, Greece has also been a home to people aside from its residents and travellers. Greece has also been a home to refugees from the war.
The communities in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan seeks asylum in the West to the European countries which have been asked to accommodate the waves of humanity breaking on their doorsteps, seeking a life away from the howl of war. As the most south-easterly corner of the European Union, Greece has found itself cast as the gateway to a humanitarian disaster, witnessing the regular arrival of boats of desperate passengers, each risking everything on the short but dangerous passage across the Aegean Sea - from the Turkish shore to the supposedly safe havens which lie within visible range.
It is almost a year now since the refugee crisis became a fixture on newspaper front pages, though such is the scale of the situation. So far this year nearly 450 refugees have died or been registered missing in and around islands such as Lesvos, Samos and Kos in the Aegean Sea, according to the UN. The numbers have fallen heavily since the peak of the crisis in 2015. According to The Telegraph, The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) describes the Dodecanese as "a haven of crystal clear waters, sandy or pebbly beaches, important archaeological finds, imposing Byzantine and medieval monuments and traditional settlements", and stresses that the situation will not affect tourists seeking for a Greek holiday.
The Telegraph also says that the popularity of the Greek islands among British holidaymakers has survived the migrant crisis unscathed, according to the country's tourism minister, who says 2017 will be a bumper year for Greece. But Elena Kountoura, Greece's tourism minister, said the islands' popularity among holidaymakers had been unaffected by an ongoing crisis that affects the south-easterly corners of Europe most.
"The truth is everyday life on the islands has been normal as per usual," she said. "These islands are a paradise for holidaymakers. Visitors have faced absolutely no problems and had an excellent holiday experience." Ms Kountoura also added: "Tourism is a very sensitive product and changes can occur sharply, [but it] unites people and nations, and can be a bridge for cooperation, economic growth, peace and prosperity."
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