Greeks To Be Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize For Their Role In Refugee Crisis

Hundreds of thousands of refugees have entered Europe by way of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

The network of Greek islanders who have rescued, sheltered and embraced refugees fleeing terror in their homelands may be up for the Nobel Peace Prize.

A group of academics from Oxford, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell and the University of Copenhagen will submit a Nobel nomination for residents of Lesbos, Kos, Chíos, Samos, Rhodes and Leros, The Guardian reported Sunday. Of the 900,000 or so Middle Eastern refugees who arrived in Europe last year, most did so by way of the various Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, where they docked and were helped ashore by local volunteers.

The academics behind that submission say they have the support of the Greek minister for migration, Yiannis Mouzalas, and will submit their nomination by the Feb. 1 deadline.

An anonymous user has also created a petition on the campaign action site Avaaz calling for a Nobel nomination for the Greek islanders, who are going through an economic crisis of their own.

"Since the very beginning of the refugee crisis, fishermen, housewives, pensioners, teachers -- all ordinary residents of the Greek islands and other volunteers have opened their homes and hearts to save refugee children, men and women fleeing war and terror," the petition reads.

The petition had amassed more than 300,000 signatures as of Monday.

Stories of Greek people helping refugees without a second thought have been one of the most stirring and poignant aspects of the crisis. In September, a Greek vacationer and her family boating near Kos made headlines when they rescued a man they'd spotted drifting in the water. The man, a Syrian refugee, was eventually reunited with his family, who'd taken him for him dead after he jumped off their boat hours earlier to retrieve a lost oar.

In April, Antonis Deligiorgis, 34, an Greek army sergeant, was photographed rescuing at least 20 refugees from a capsized boat off the coast of Rhodes. Deligiorgis, who was off-duty at the time, was later awarded the Cross of Excellency by Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.

Greece's open door stands in contrast to other European countries' reluctance or outright refusal to take in refugees, as seen in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. A number of Western European nations have also been criticized for capping the number of refugees they will accept at a low figure.

Because the Nobel Peace Prize must go to an individual or organization, The Guardian reports that the academics are expected to formally nominate organized groups of volunteers from the Greek islands, or else individuals within those groups.

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