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Even On Land - Benjamin Gow

Even On Land

Out in the water it’s an alien environment for us, it threatens us because we cannot breathe in water because we have no footing, we are not designed to live in it. We are adapted to live on land, on dry land we are supposed to be able to survive. And yet two people are known to have died today having got safely to shore. Even when they make it to solid dry land, they are not safe from the cold grip of hypothermia.

Out in the water the rescue is in the hands of the Coast Guard, Frontex, the HELLAS lifeguards in equipped boats; they are out there pulling people out of the sea, towing people to shore and the first response of rescue. Today people were brought to shore and died here on land, reports say from hypothermia.

I don’t know the details of the deaths beyond the reports that at least two people made the crossing and upon reaching land, died.

I believe there’s some politics involved, but I can’t comment on that. I know the principle is that sometimes, even when we think we are safe, we still need help to survive. We need the help of other people, we need basic active humanitarian care to live.

That’s where the beach teams, the eclectic patchwork of grassroots organisations and independent volunteers, play an active and vital role in saving lives. That’s why I’m here, I’ve devoted my time since I’ve come back to working on setting up two safe, transition centres, providing that immediate medical care, the second level of care given by a dry change of clothes, and water and hot tea and a safe place to wait; simple procedures that make a difference between life and death.

Sometimes it’s not enough to rescue people from the sea, sometimes we need to save them when they make it here. That is what each and every person is trying to do here. Each with our own role to play.

We each do what we can to help, even if that is to put a hot tea in their hands and sit with someone, for a moment of normal in the haze of the unknown. And to those who lost a part of their family today, I wish both you and your departed safe passage to the next stage.

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