By Tim Hume, CNN
January 24, 2016
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A Greek doctor consoles a woman holding her child in an emergency blanket on the Greek island of Lesbos.
(CNN)Residents of the Greek islands have found themselves on the front lines of Europe's migration crisis, rescuing, feeding and sheltering hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants who found their way to their shores.
Now an online petition has been launched calling for the efforts of these "unsung heroes" on islands in the Aegean Sea to be recognized with a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The petition, on the Avaaz website, is addressed to the Norwegian Nobel Committee and Greece's Immigration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas and had attracted more than 288,000 signatures by Sunday.
"Ordinary residents of Greek islands and other volunteers have been on the front lines of Europe's refugee crisis for months, opening up their hearts and homes to save hundreds of thousands fleeing war and terror.
"For their compassion and courage, for treating those in danger with humanity, and for setting an example for the rest of the world to follow, we citizens around the world, nominate these brave women and men for a Nobel Peace Prize.
"Nobody is more deserving of such honor than these unsung heroes."
A message from the petition's authors on the page said Mouzalas had indicated that Greece's government would consider backing the petition.
Discarded life jackets line the rocky shores of Lesbos, Greece on September 10, 2015
A refugee sleeps near the port of Mytilini on September 9, 2015 in Lesbos. He's one of thousands of migrants who have landed on the island's shores, after boarding inflatable boats from Turkey.
Long queues form as refugees wait to receive food in a park near the port of Mytilini, Lesbos. Many arrive wet, hungry and tired after paying huge amounts of money to risk their lives on small, crowded boats.
Local relief agencies work to feed the migrants before they make their onward journey. The U.N. says approximately 50 boats of migrants land on Lesbos each day, depositing from 1,500 to 3,000 new immigrants.
Traffickers charge each migrant $1,350 to board inflatable boats from Turkey. Often they're overcrowded, and make take on water along the way. This boat arrived on September 9.
Many of the migrants have cell phones, loaded with the phone numbers of Greek rescue authorities so they can come to their aid. Facebook pages also give migrants advice on what to do when they arrive.
A woman cries after arriving on the island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey on a dinghy
Migrants buy tents to make their journey more comfortable. A Facebook page for refugees even tells them what sort to buy and where. Here, a migrant looks out to sea.
The deadline for nominations is February 1. The petition's authors urged supporters to spread the petition, in hope of securing 1 million signatures before the deadline.
Nobel prizes are awarded only to individuals and organizations, so the official nominee would likely be the volunteer networks that organize to support and comfort the migrants.
More than 1 million migrants entered Europe in "irregular arrivals" last year, most fleeing conflict, persecution and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The overwhelming majority of migrants -- more than 80% -- arrived in Europe by way of Greece, the IOM said, before setting off to their target destinations.
The wave of migrants has made the Mediterranean "the deadliest route for migrants on our planet," the IOM's Director General William Lacy Swing has said, with nearly 3,700 people drowning in its waters last year.
On Greek islands such as Lesbos, piles of discarded life jackets are a sign of the constant stream of new arrivals.