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More Migrants Arrive By Boat To Greece's Shores On Christmas

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now to another Christmas scene this morning. It's along the beaches of Lesbos, a Greek island. And this is where we found Julie Segedy, a retired English professor from the San Francisco Bay area. She's a volunteer helping refugees coming ashore from places like Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

JULIE SEGEDY: Today was a hectic day. Between 7ish in the morning and noonish is when the majority of the boats arrived from across the strait in Turkey. It was barely dawn, and already there is one rubber raft on the - that's just arrived. And there are two more that you can see in the distance on their way over.

GREENE: Now, by the time we talked to Segedy this morning, some 200 people had already arrived.

SEGEDY: The babies come off the boats first, and then the women and then the men. They often get wet because they're putting their feet - or legs into the water in their eagerness to get onto shore.

GREENE: And she describes one woman who arrived ashore with her husband and four children.

SEGEDY: She came in, she went over to the women and children's tent and clothed the children and came back to the campfire. We have some baby food here, we've got some little cereals. And she had wide eyes open and a big-old smile on her face, and the children are smiling. And they want to hold my hand, and everybody's kissing me.

GREENE: Now, Kevin Merkelz is the head of operations in Greece for the organization Segedy volunteers for called Lighthouse Refugee Relief. And he says they are planning a little something special for this day.

KEVIN MERKELZ: What we've planned at the camp on the beach here for Christmas is a small Christmas dinner, basically. We wanted to do it in a place where all of the volunteers on the whole beach could come if they want. So we've invited anyone from any volunteer organization to come to our camp. In the afternoon - and we're going to have, like, a big spread set up with food that's been cooked by one of our Italian volunteers, who has offered to buy all of the food and cook everything. And if refugees come in boats, then they can have that food, too. It's just going to be like an open Christmas dinner - yeah - on the beach.

GREENE: That's Christmas on the Greek island of Lesbos. Kevin Merkelz of Lighthouse Refugee Relief along with volunteer Julie Segedy, a retired English professor from California - both of them getting ready for Christmas dinner after another hectic day of helping refugees. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.