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People Want The Greek Islanders Who Helped Refugees To Win A Nobel Peace Prize

Organizers said they are working with academics to secure a nomination for the Greeks who worked on rescue missions, provided aid, and opened their homes to refugees.

Posted on January 24, 2016, at 5:05 p.m. ET

Greek army Sgt. Antonis Deligiorgis rescues an Eritrean woman on the island of Rhodes in April 2015.
Argiris Mantikos / AP

Greek army Sgt. Antonis Deligiorgis rescues an Eritrean woman on the island of Rhodes in April 2015.

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed online petitions to give this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Greek islanders who have helped refugees crossing into Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

The Guardian reported Sunday an international group of academics has agreed to nominate the people of the islands of Lesbos, Kos, Chíos, Samos, Rhodes, and Leros for the award. Nominations must be submitted by Feb. 1.

A petition on Avaaz.org was first posted in November, calling for the Nobel committee to recognize Greek islanders who had shown brotherhood to Syrian refugees, in spite of their own country's economic hard times.

A second page noted many of the Greek volunteers were everyday people — such as fishermen, teachers, pensioners — who had in some cases risked their lives to help thousands of refugees.

"With their actions, they drowned fear and racism in a wave of compassion and reminded the whole world that we [are] one, united humanity, above races, nations, and religions," the page reads.

Petros Giannakouris / AP

In 2015, more than 900,000 people crossed into Europe by the Mediterranean Sea — with 80% coming across the Aegean Sea into Greece.

About half of the arrivals were Syrians fleeing war, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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