According to the latest statistics by the Greek Ministry there are 14,428 people registered on the Aegean islands. Those who make it to Greece on their way to Europe are forced into camps for months or years while their asylum claims are processed. Relief Share will deliver donations to each of the charities listed below who distribute first aid/hygiene, clothing/shoes, educational and humanitarian items to refugees at all three island locations. Each also administers primary care clinics and language centers where Relief Share will bring our medical and educational donations. Relief Share also will deliver medical surplus to public hospitals on Lesvos and Samos.
ATHENS – In central Athens there are many camps and organizations helping refugees and migrants. During our 2 days in Athens, we will deliver donations to organizations like Amurtel, which supports young refugee families.
AMURTEL is an international, grassroots organization managed by women committed to assisting refugee mothers and babies to have the best possible perinatal care, despite challenges they face. Donations needed are any humanitarian items needed for young families, over the counter health and hygiene items, prenatal and postnatal vitamins, food to prepare meals for families with young children such as dates, nuts, rice, lentils, chickpeas, or raisins, newborn clothing, and diapers, both cloth and disposable, as well as general donations to help run their charity.
CHIOS – is situated 16 km from Turkey. It’s a major gateway for asylum seekers to the European Union due to its geographical position. There are 1,600 refugees on Chios served by the Chios Eastern Shore Response Team (CESRT).
Almost 2 million refugees and migrants have flowed into Europe since 2014 in the largest movement of people since World War II. According to the U.N.’s refugee agency, 1.1 million people have entered Europe by landing on the shores of Greece’s Aegean Sea islands.
The Chios Vial Refugee Camp has living conditions that are particularly challenging and include lack of accommodation, lack of medical care, lack of legal information, inadequate provision of food, delay of asylum procedures, and more. Donations Relief Share will leave with CESRT will help people “trapped physically and psychologically” in the Vial camp.
Summer usually has much calmer seas leading to a rise in the number of desperate people arriving on Chios and Greece’s islands. Toula Kitromilidi, founder of CESRT, reports that it is the only organization the Greek coast guard notifies when rescuing refugees. She also says the work of CESRT would be impossible without volunteers and donations. Relief Share hopes to bring a large amount of donations to CSERT in June.
LESVOS – The three locations on Lesvos we will deliver donations to are:
- Caritas: hotel/apartments for very vulnerable refugees
- Kara Tepe: “village” for families
- Moria: most difficult conditions camp, overfull – recently government has begun to transfer more refugees to Athens on Mainland.
Mytilini, the largest city on Lesvos/Lesbos island. The island is in the northeastern Aegean, much closer to Turkey than to mainland Greece. Turkey, about 10 miles away, can be seen from Mytilini, so it’s understandable why this island is one of the major gateways to enter Europe from Turkey
There are 3 camps: one outside Mytilini (Kara Tepe camp), one outside Moria (Moria Camp), and one outside Mantamados (Caritas Hotel). All three sites are managed by the Greek government and/or police and supported by several non-governmental organizations.
The best living conditions are in Caritas Hotel. This was an abandoned hotel that now houses about 40 people, mostly families with young children. It’s located on seaside cliff and has normal home-like conditions, with access to the main kitchen, transportation into Mytilini, and a calm, neighborly feel of an apartment building. Only very vulnerable families are placed here, such as families with newborn babies.
KARA TEPE CAMP The refugee camp run by the Municipality of Lesvos is an example of how refugees should be hosted properly. It took a lot of effort and energy from mayor Spyros Galinos and the manager of the camp Stavros Μyrogiannis to build a hospitable place for the people who escaped war and persecution. The purpose of the camp is to provide temporary housing for asylum seekers as they await their registration processes. The majority of individuals living in the camp are of Syrian, Afghani or Iraqi origin.
The Lesvos municipal government manages Kara Tepe, which resembles a village more than a camp. Families with kids are placed here, and it’s described as constantly having groups of children running around playing together. Families live in large shipping containers that are turned into cabins. Nearly 700 people live here. It’s right next to a large supermarket, on the outskirts of Mytilini city, with regular buses into town. Younger children may have never attended school or had a regular schedule and most likely lived through traumatic experiences. They can be unable to easily communicate with everyone around them. Then include the trauma their parents have gone through – all factors making working with these children very challenging.
This is the biggest camp with the worst conditions. It’s supposed to house around 2,500 refugees, but the current population is almost 3,000. There’s a gated section for single women, another gated section for families with children, and a third gated section for unaccompanied minors. There is also a prison here. This camp is managed by the Greek police and military. It’s situated on a large hill, surrounded by chain link fence and barbed wire. Refugees are free to come and go as they wish (as is true in all 3 camps), but can only use the main gate to enter and exit. “Landscaping” at the camp is gravel and concrete, and everything is dusty. Most refugees stay in shipping container cabins, but around 20 adults sleep in each one, making them hot when temperatures are regularly in the 90s each day. Some refugees still live in tents. A dozen charities offer soccer, volleyball, art activities, Greek classes, English classes, movie nights, and more.
SAMOS – Samos is about two kilometers off the coast of Turkey.
Nearly 4,000 vulnerable refugees, including 1,200+ children have access to very little medical care from the overwhelmed local hospital. Relief Share will bring medical, family health & hygiene, and educational items to Samos Volunteers, Med’EqualiTeam, and Agios Panteleimon General Hospital of Samos.
As of March 2019, the Greece Migration Minister reported that the Samos migrant camp at Vathy has hundreds of children living in squalor, and is six times over capacity. Smugglers target the eastern side of Samos since it is close to the Turkish coast. Unlike the other island refugee camps, the sole Samos camp is within walking distance of the port capital, Vathy. Many tents and makeshift shelters are set up on the hills above the town due to there being not enough room in the camp. Every day, boats with new arrivals add to the increased numbers who are endure desperate conditions. Relief Share medical and humanitarian donations to charities helping refugees on Samos will make a difference – we just need to get them there.