Help for refugees in Greece

Since mid-2015, well over 2 million refugees have come to Europe. Many of them were fleeing from the war in Syria. Their living conditions in Europe are often deplorable. Caritas Switzerland is providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Greece.  


Not since the Second World War have there been so many refugees seeking shelter in Europe as today. According to UNHCR, in the years 2015 – 2017, over 2.9 million refugees applied for refugee status in European countries.  A very large proportion of them - from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq - came to Europe across the Mediterranean. Due to its geographical location, Greece is providing shelter for a particularly large number of refugees: according to official figures, over 47 000 refugees are currently registered in Greece; more than half of them women and children.

Greece is doing a lot, but it is not enough

Greece, which ever since 2010 has been struggling immensely to deal with its own financial crisis, cannot cope with the many arrivals. 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 Aid 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.

For war-displaced persons in Europe, Caritas Switzerland provides emergency and survival aid totalling some 6 million Swiss francs. It receives support from the German Caritas Association, Caritas Austria, CAFOD, Caritas Portugal, Swiss Solidarity, the SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) and the German Foreign Office.

Caritas Aid in in the refugees' countries of origin

The many people who are still living in the crisis regions are still in urgend need of assistance. Therefore, Caritas Switzerland also provides aid in Syria and the neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan.

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