The plight of refugees
For tens of thousands, fleeing to Europe remains their only chance to escape war, oppression, hunger or persecution in their home country. Lesvos is a major destination for those who come from the Middle East. For them, the Greek island is the first ‘station’ on the European continent. The Refugee Deal between the European Union and Turkey brought a phase of calm. However, since then many refugees have been stuck on Lesvos. And since August 2016, the number of people arriving on the island has risen again.
Engagement on Lesvos remains important
The number of new arrivals and those who are stuck is fluctuating significantly. According to European law, they have to remain in Greece until their asylum application has been processed. Hardly anybody knows when that will be the case. Until then, they hardly receive any support and in many cases they are on their own with nobody to help. No one can say how long this situation will continue. That is why our Greek partners and we are making the effort to support these desperate people. Whilst other aid organisation retreated from Lesvos in protest against the EU-Turkey Deal, our partner decided to remain.
EU Hotspot: Providing care for and welcoming refugees
Particularly tense is the situation in the EU Hotspot near the Moria refugee camp. The site shelters far more people than it can accommodate. The authorities do not have exact figures. The fact that hundreds are sleeping in makeshift tents and permanent structures are overcrowded, speaks for itself. Our help, which includes food and drink, clothing, a place to sleep and simple hygiene articles, is urgently needed.
For many, these things are as important as human affection. The helpers warmly welcome all exhausted people on arrival and later, when everyday life in the camp has set in, they let them know that every human being is valuable and loved.
Further challenges include looking after unaccompanied minor refugees in a separate area of the camp. These young people are lovingly cared for. And even though the number of new arrivals has significantly fallen compared to the summer of 2015, there are still new people arriving, who have to be accommodated at the camp.
Support in further locations
The social-diaconal centre in the island’s capital Mytilene also provides refugees with meals, clothing and the opportunity to have a wash.
In Athens, we have been looking after people in need since the 1980ies. There too, refugees are warmly welcomed. Many of them speak neither English nor Greek. In introductory courses, we try to at least convey basic language skills to those, who do not have an opportunity to attend school – for example, because they do not have the required permit or because they are adults.
A special measure is the five-day summer camp for men or families outside Athens. On a remote site near the sea, helpers look after the refugees and give them the opportunity to rest from their exhausting everyday life on Athens’ streets. A comprehensive programme of games and sports helps them to relax and to rediscover that life can be enjoyed.
You can help
The people in Lesvos and Athens appreciate your donation whatever the amount. Please pay the amount you would like to donate for ‘Greece‘ into our donation account.