Red Cross working to help migrants in Greece as conditions worsen

Topics: Refugee Crisis
January 19, 2017

A woman with supplies in a camp hit by winter As winter creates difficult conditions, the Red Cross is working to help refugees in Greece. Extreme temperatures, sometimes as low as -15 Celsius, makes life a challenge for displaced people living in tents in camps.

Camps, like the one on Lesvos Island, or Scaramgas in western Athens, are the temporary homes for over 60,000 asylum-seekers - mainly families - who are in Greece while they wait for a decision made on their claims, or while they await relocation.  As the weather worsens, it creates continued strain on people who have already faced hardship.

The Red Cross is working in camps to help bring comfort and relief to those living there. Canadian Pam Riley, who has been working in Greece with the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) as part of a strategic partnership with the Canadian Red Cross and Government of Canada, described the weather as “absolutely freezing”.  Jamie Sport, also with the IFRC, explained, “Biting cold, freezing rain, snow, and treacherous ground conditions – this is the everyday reality for the people living in camps and the organizations working with migrants and refugees...People are queuing for food in sub-zero temperatures.”

The IFRC is working with the Hellenic Red Cross to deliver essential items like sleeping bags, warm clothing, blankets and heaters, as well as insulating tents. But weather-related challenges continue to make this difficult, as roads, water and power supply are impacted by conditions.

Ruben Cano, IFRC’s Head of Office called for action in improving camp conditions, “Decent housing, heating, and access to kitchen facilities are vital to protect people physically and emotionally.”

Sport also spoke about providing solutions for those continuing to live in camps, “People need dignity – it is critical that the response in Greece moves from emergency mode to sustainable, long-term solutions.”