Joanna Kakissis

On a cold, rainy morning a few weeks ago, eight black inflatable rafts, loaded with migrants, bob in the waters off the northern shore of the Greek island of Lesbos.

One of them isn't moving.

Vassilis Hantzopoulos of the Hellenic Red Cross points to the horizon.

"This boat up there?" he says. "No engine. Failure of the engine. That's it. So they ask for help from the coast guard."

A Norwegian rescue boat with the European Union's border agency, Frontex, heads toward the distressed raft.

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Three teenage boys are lugging boxes of donated shoes into a stately neoclassical home in Mytilini, the capital of the Greek island of Lesbos.

Two of the boys are Syrian, and the other is Algerian. For the moment, they live in this house, a shelter for underage asylum-seekers traveling alone.

Inside, Christina Dimakou, a high-energy young lawyer, greets them. "Kalimera!" she says, Greek for "good day" and flashes a smile. The boys repeat the word, giggling.

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