Giorgos Moutafis / Reuters

Petition calls for Nobel Peace Prize for Greek islanders

Over 500,000 signatures gathered in support of awarding peace prize to Greek islanders for response to refugee crisis

More than half a million people have put their names to an online petition calling for Greek islanders on the front lines of Europe's refugee crisis to be awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.

In a similar move, noted academics from prestigious universities around the world reportedly drafted their own submission before the Feb. 1 deadline for Nobel nominations, in a move that has won support from European MPs, artists, politicians and the Greek media.

And several prominent Greek figures have sent a letter to the Nobel nominating committee, recommending a Greek pensioner, Emilia Kamvysis, and a fisherman, Stratis Valiamos, for the award, along with Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon, the Athens News Agency reported.

Kamvysis, 85, and Valiamos, 40, have become local celebrities for their volunteer work, and Sarandon has raised awareness about the refugee crisis through her visit to the island of Lesbos and volunteer work there.

By Monday, the number of signatures on the petition, on the Avaaz website, topped 600,000.

"The native populations of the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea have done and are doing anything possible to help the displaced Syrian refugees, despite being subjected to a severe economic crisis for many years," reads the petition, which was created by Alkmini Papadaki, an architect from Crete. "Their acts and sacrifices shall not go unnoticed, because they are significant contributors to world peace and stability." 

Nikos Voutsis, the president of the Greek parliament, has also backed the islanders' nomination. "The citizens of the Aegean Islands, and especially Lesbos, constitute an example for European civilization," he said.

According to the International Organization for Migration, over 800,000 migrants and refugees arrived on Greece's shores in 2015.

So far this year, a daily average of more than 1,900 people have landed on the Greek islands after making a perilous journey by sea from Turkey, U.N. figures show. More than half of them — over 31,000 — have been registered in Lesbos.

Wire services

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