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December 05th, 2018

Support refugees held in overcrowded makeshift camps in Greece

type:NGO, Project, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

As the refugee crisis in Europe exacerbates, the conditions in refugee camps (mostly in Greece) worsen. Unable to process the rising numbers of migrants and asylum seekers (often due to bureaucratic restrictions and a flawed asylum mechanism), the Greek government erects makeshift refugee camps which by now are overcrowded and inhospitable, and where refugees must wait for indefinite period of time until their case is reviewed.

One such camp, called Moria, currently holds 9,000 asylum seekers although its capacity is 3,000, where many of the migrants have thus far spent months waiting. Conditions in Moria are deplorable. In a New York Times piece from October, 2018, writer Patrick Kingsley describes the following about the camp: “The overcrowding is so extreme that asylum seekers spend as much as 12 hours a day waiting in line for food that is sometimes moldy. Last week, there were about 80 people for each shower, and around 70 per toilet, with aid workers complaining about raw sewage leaking into tents where children are living.” The dire reality in Moria has led to both a safety and mental health crises in the camp, with sexual assault, knife attacks, and suicide attempts occurring regularly.

Established in 2016, Refugee Support is a nonprofit organization working to alleviate the plight of migrants in refugee camps, as well as take some of the pressure off of the authorities and other NGOs as they grapple to handle the deteriorating conditions in the camps.

Untethered by bureaucratic chains, Refugee Support may offer quick and immediate relief to refugees; they do so through a group of hundreds of devout volunteers who operate in camps across Greece (and as of April 2017 in Bangladesh as well). Primarily, the organization provides food and essential supplies (including sanitation products) to refugees, acquired through donations, and distributed through warehouses and shops operated and maintained by Refugee Support volunteers. Each migrant (or migrant family) is allotted a certain number of tokens with which they can “purchase” goods. This way, migrants both get access to items they need and maintain a sense of dignity and ‘normalcy’ while doing so.  

Please consult the Refugee Support website to learn more about the conditions faced by migrants in camps across Greece, figure out how to donate (either money or items), and get more information about their various volunteer options.

Image credit: The Argus

refugeesupport.eu