Aid for refugees in Greece

More and more 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 supports refugees in Greece with emergency aid and with counselling in social centres.


It is almost impossible to grasp what is happening right now on the Greek islands and the Greek-Turkish border. More than 40,000 people have come in the hope of seeking safety from war, terror and persecution. But they have to endure appalling, inhuman conditions in cramped and overcrowded refugee camps on the islands of Leros, Chios, Kos, Lesbos and Samos. In addition, more than 10,000 women, men and children are currently being prevented from crossing the border between Turkey and Greece, in some cases with water cannons and tear gas. Rarely has the term Fortress Europe rung so true as it does today. The deplorable images almost obscure the fact that an even greater humanitarian tragedy is unfolding on the Syrian-Turkish border.

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. The people still 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

In Athens, jointly with its partner organisation Caritas Hellas, Caritas Switzerland is providing refugees with humanitarian 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 by renting empty housing premises 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 in Athens, 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 Caritas Greece, Caritas Switzerland is currently taking emergency aid measures to improve the situation of the refugees in response to the worsening situation at the border with Turkey and on the Aegean islands.


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