The northern coastline of Lesbos is peppered with abandoned boats, deflated dinghies, life vests and inflatable tubes. With thousands of refugees and migrants landing on the island each day, the wintry waters are punctuated by old boats – wooden, battered and decrepit – left by human smugglers to rot after the passengers have reached land and continued on their journey to find safety in Europe.
Others are merely piles of rubber, the deflated dinghies and shells of motors that delivered refugees to European territory and are left unclaimed. These are just the vessels that successfully delivered refugees to Europe. Not all seeking to cross the Mediterranean are so lucky. In 2015 alone, more than 3,500 refugees or migrants drowned at sea or still cannot be accounted for, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, as the overcrowded watercraft carrying them sank in the waves.