More than 600,000 people have put their names to an online petition calling for Greek islanders on the frontline of Europe's migrant crisis to be awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.
Also 230 academics from 111 universities around the world submitted their own petition before the Monday deadline Nobel nominations in a move which has won support from European MPs, artists, politicians and the Greek media. Nobelists Christopher Pissarides and Desmond Tutu are said to be among those who have backed the initiative.
A total of some 620,000 people signed the online petition, which was launched in November on the website of campaign group Avaaz by Alkmini Minadaki, an architect and activist from Crete.
"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," says the petition created by Minadakis.
"Their acts and sacrifices shall not go unnoticed, because they are significant contributors to world peace and stability," it says.
Nikos Voutsis, president of the Greek parliament, has also backed the islanders' nomination.
"The citizens of the Aegean islands, and especially Lesvos, constitute an example for European civilisation," he said.
The petition calls for the Nobel committee to give its prize to the Aegean Solidarity Movement, which comprises of 12 volunteer groups from nine islands.
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, UN figures show. More than half of them — over 31,000 — have been registered in Lesvos.
[Kathimerini & AFP]