Greece lying at the eastern borders of Europe symbolizes the point of entry to Europe for many refugees and immigrants. While most refugees or immigrants arriving in Greece have put themselves in danger while crossing the Aegean Sea to reach the Greek islands, this does not designate the end of their problems.
Having been stripped from their possessions and having paid hefty amounts to their traffickers, they remain stranded in the Greek islands like Samos, Lesvos and Chios, with no wealth and no opportunities in sight either on these islands or in mainland Greece where it’s still in a phase of economic recovery.
For this reason, it is of utmost importance the existence of refugee organizations in Greece or mechanisms charged with the support of these refugees and immigrants and to provide them with opportunities to be self-reliable. Thus, it is vital to turn around the predominant narrative about them from liabilities to assets.
The Distinction Between a Refugee and an Immigrant
First of all, if it’s not yet clear to you the difference between a refugee and an immigrant, their distinction is pretty straightforward. Refugees are typically people who left their countries in fear of persecution, war or violence and that generally have been forced to leave their country. On the other hand, immigrants are people who live outside of their country of birth. Typically, immigrants move to find a better life and better work opportunities. The proportion of talent is equally distributed across the world, but unfortunately, opportunities are not.
Organizations that Support Refugees and Immigrants in Greece
Considering the magnitude of the migrant waves arriving in Greece in the last couple of years, which peaked in 2015 with more than 850.000 arrivals, many organizations currently operate in Greece that provide relief and help during this tremendous humanitarian need. Unfortunately, this article cannot cover the extent of all refugee organizations in Greece that are now providing aid to migrants and refugees. Still, we will cover only a part of them. So, here are the organizations operating in Greece and supporting migrants in many aspects of their daily lives:
One of the largest international organizations dealing with refugee crises worldwide, couldn’t be missing from this list. Its essential work covers protecting, shelter, healthcare, and emergency relief, assisting in resettlement and repatriation. At the same time, it acts as an advocate on behalf of refugees for changes in national and multilateral policies.
A non-Governmental refugee Organization in Greece that expands the essential help provided by UNHCR even further. GCR has its team of interpreters that act as intercultural mediators, provide pro bono legal services to refugees and asylum seekers, and offer social services like psychosocial support. At the same time, it promotes their integration in their host countries by providing activities, courses, workshops and guidance in finding a job.
An Austrian charity that is also registered in Greece as a Greek non-for-profit company since 2019. They both operate inside refugee camps where they provide material assistance and support to refugees. However, they have also established their Echo Hubs, which are safe spaces for refugees to learn languages, attend to computer courses for their professional development, workshops, and find recreational opportunities like sports teams, crafts, and others.
is a refugee organization in Greece operating since 2015, providing a humanitarian response, in the beginning, at the notorious Moria transit site on the island of Lesvos, which now has expanded to mainland Greece in Athens Thessaloniki and Larissa. DRC works with the Greek authorities to develop a sustainable refugee reception and integration system by providing site management services, food, water and sanitation, protection, legal, and non-formal education. Also, they act as cultural mediators and provide integration courses that include language and soft skills training.
It provides a home for unaccompanied children whose lives were affected by war and persecution, empowering them to grow into active citizens. The HOME project currently has 14 homes and has fostered more than 570 lone children who are otherwise exposed to child abuse, organ trafficking, sexual exploitation and other dangers. At the HOME project, the children receive holistic development services that include physical, mental health, educational, social, pedagogical and legal support. At the same time, the children have the opportunity to find work in one of the many shelters that they operate.
Being a refugee or migrant is scary and detrimental to the physical and mental health of those people. Fleeing from your ancestral land due to persecution or war and losing all your possessions or wealth during your effort to reach a safe place is a tough pill to swallow.
Thankfully, refugee organizations in Greece like the above are there to help and support these unfortunate people by helping them integrate, but most importantly, to survive this new situation with dignity.
The Erasmus+ IntegrAction project works along the lines of these organizations in support of refugees and asylum seekers. ANOLF Marche elaborates it in collaboration with KMOP (GR), iED (GR), Learnmera (FI), and Job4Refugees (DE) to promote the social and economic inclusion of the refugees and asylum seekers in the local context of reception.
To learn more about the project, click here.