Aid for refugees in Greece

More than 100'000 people are seeking protection as refugees in Greece. The situation on the Aegean islands and on the Greek-Turkish border is escalating dramatically. Caritas Switzerland helps refugees in Greece to improve their living conditions.


It is almost impossible to grasp what is happening on the Greek islands and the Greek-Turkish border. Ten thousands of people have come in the hope of seeking safety from war, terror and persecution. But they have to endure appalling, inhuman conditions. The refugee camps on the islands of Leros, Chios, Kos, Lesbos and Samos are cramped and overcrowded. And after the terrible fire in the refugee camp Moria on Lesvos on September 8 2020, 13,000 people with nothing but their clothes on are stranded on the streets of the island - in the middle of the Corona pandemic. They have nowhere to go. Rarely has the term 'Fortress Europe' rung so true as at the Greek-Turkish border. When Turkey opened the border in March 2020, women, men and children were repeatedly being prevented from crossing it, in some cases with water cannons and tear gas. Since then, incidents at the border continue.

Greece, which ever since 2010 has been struggling immensely to deal with its own financial crisis, cannot cope with the more than 100'000 refugees and migrants in the country. The country is overburdened with the registration, accommodation and care of the refugees. Although Greek authorities, national and international NGOs and volunteers are working tirelessly to improve the situation, the need for action does not lessen, indeed it has dramatically intensified after the fire in Camp Moria. More than ever, the people lack secure shelter, and many refugees are left to fend completely for themselves without medico-psychological care. They are too little aware of their legitimate rights, and do not know where to find support.


Caritas' assistance in Greece

Jointly with its partner organisations, Caritas Switzerland is providing refugees in Greece with aid to improve their living conditions:

  • Safe shelter and warm meals: Caritas provides safe shelter and warm meals to particularly needy asylum seekers such as families with infants, pregnant women and women making the journey alone. It does so for example by renting empty housing premises in Athens and having building repairs done to make them suitable for the people's needs.
  • Medical, legal, social and psychological support and childcare: What are my rights? To whom should I turn for support in a medical emergency? Many refugees in Greece lack information on such basic issues. In the social centres run by Caritas, people find answers and support to help them to cope with their everyday lives. Every day, social workers, lawyers, psychologists, translators and child carers receive refugees and help them better to find their way in Greece and learn the language, providing moral support and counselling in Greek asylum procedures, in family reunification or in relocation to other EU member countries. In addition, Caritas offers childcare and help with integration into the labour market. If specific services are not available, Caritas directs people to other organisations that can help them. In this way, refuge seekers receive comprehensive and individual help in their difficult situation.

Together with its partner organisations, Caritas Switzerland is currently evaluating emergency aid measures to support the 13,000 people fighting for survival after the fire at Moria. Caritas Greece is distributing sleeping bags, hygiene kits and water bottles. In addition, Caritas is assessing how we can make a sustainable and effective contribution to ensuring that these families have a secure roof over their heads and future prospects in the long term.


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