Thousands of people are stranded in Greece without food, running water and basic supplies as the situation at the country’s northern border spirals into a struggle for survival for migrants desperate to find safety.
Up to 8,000 people are stranded in Idomeni on Greece’s northern border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Almost all are Syrian or Iraqi, and 40 per cent are children.
Two overflow camps have been set up to cope with the increasing numbers of people, but they are without running water, sufficient food, baby food, toilets or hygiene items. Violence has also flared at the border crossing as desperation among migrants mounts.
“Food supplies in some areas of Greece have run out. This situation has become desperate in a very short space of time. Our help is needed right now” said Liam O’Dwyer, Secretary General of the Irish Red Cross.
At least 30,000 people have been stranded across Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Athens and Idomeni after Austria and countries along the Western Balkan route significantly reduced the number of people allowed to cross their borders last week. Afghans, who were previously able to move onward in search of asylum, are no longer permitted to travel beyond Greece.
“The rest of Europe should not pull down the shutters and pretend this isn’t happening. At least 40 per cent of those trapped in Greece are children. For families who have already experienced more trauma and distress than most of us could ever imagine to be put in this position is appalling,” said Simon Missiri, director of Europe for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The Greek authorities are working hard to meet basic needs but with no sign the situation will improve and numbers continuing to increase, the Red Cross is gravely concerned about the welfare of those stranded. Red Cross teams are providing emergency supplies and medical care but more support is urgently needed as families travelling with elderly and disabled relatives, babies and young children are spending too long without proper shelter.
Missiri said: “Our teams are on the shores of Lesvos, the streets of Athens and the border camps of the north and support thousands of people every day but the erratic policies of countries along the route are making it almost impossible for people to get what they need most - safety, and to be treated with dignity.”
The Irish Red Cross Migration Crisis appeal is supporting people on the migration trail, including those in Greece. Donations can be made securely online at www.redcross.ie or by phoning 1850 50 70 70.
Since 2015, the Irish Red Cross has sent more that €200,000 worth of aid and emergency relief to help migrants in Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Italy. In Syria and bordering countries, the Irish Red Cross is continuing to support families affected by the violent conflict by providing aid support for food, medical aid and shelter.
Note to Editor:
• For more information please contact Rebecca Dunne, Communications Executive Irish Red Cross on 087 743 3275 | firstname.lastname@example.org
• The Red Cross and Red Crescent are part of the International Red Cross Red Crescent movement, the largest humanitarian organisation in the world, with national societies in 190 countries, including the Irish Red Cross.
The Red Cross is providing aid to people stranded in Greece