Refugee Crisis
On a Greek Island, Two Worlds Meet

A group of young professionals from across Europe have set off to the Greek island of Samos to try to find new solutions to help the growing number of refugees arriving on its shores.
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BerlinUnlike many of the people travelling to Samos for a summer vacation, Franziska Petersen wasn’t planning just to relax.

The 30-year-old German client manager for Facebook’s European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, had set out to the Greek island of Samos to meet a group of 20 young professionals who are trying to find new ways to deal with the growing refugee crisis in Europe.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, the number of refugees arriving from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Eritrea has increased ten-fold since last year; over 137,613 people reached Greece by sea in the first seven months of 2015, compared to 14,714 during that period last year.

Most arrive on flimsy rubber dinghies, and manage to reach the Aegean islands or are rescued by the Greek coastal guards.

Ms. Petersen immediately saw how disoriented many of the migrants on Samos were.

“I’d be strolling along the harbor and see groups of people arriving from the sea, stripping off their safety jackets and running around aimlessly,” Ms. Petersen told Handelsblatt Global Edition in a phone interview.

“Some of them think they just landed in Italy,” she said.

Ms. Petersen arrived in Samos at the invitation of  Paula Schwarz, an entrepreneur from Berlin with a German father, Greek mother and family who own a house on the island. Ms. Schwarz wanted to gathered together young professionals from start ups and tech companies from Germany, Greece and South Africa to use their skills to help solve the problems she was witnessing in Samos. She asked Ms. Peterson and others to join a group, Startupboat, to come up with some new ideas.

To continue reading this story, click here to go to Handelsblatt's Global Edition.

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