Currently there are more refugees in Greece than during the influx of 2015. The rest of Europe has turned its back while Greece has long since reached breaking point. There is a lot of attention for the refugees on the Greek islands. However, there are also a lot of people residing on mainland Greece in – often remote – reception facilities. In March 2019, Boat Refugee Foundation visited a number of these locations, spoke with local organisations and refugees and subsequently decided that we were badly needed here.
On the mainland, people are housed in old factories, semi-permanent camps made up of containers and tents or in rented hotels and apartments. It is estimated that people stay between six months and four years in these reception facilities. During this time their lives are on hold. The average duration of the naturalisation process is four years. Once people have been granted refugee status they are entitled to six more months of shelter and financial support from the government. After this, they are expected to be self-sufficient. A large number of people become homeless as a result.
Compared to camp Moria, many camps on the mainland have even fewer facilities such as medical and psychological assistance, education or sports. In addition, many of the shelters are very remote, with little or no public transport connections. As a result, people are unable to make use of the services offered in the cities. People who are not yet registered or undocumented cannot use any facilities and live on the streets, in squats or in abandoned trains.
The greatest need that Boat Refugee Foundation witnessed on the mainland was the lack of psychological help and perspective.
Therefore, we are starting a mission consisting of two projects: Psychological Support and Community Building. A volunteer team of mental health professionals will start psychological support groups in the locations where this help is most needed, aimed at psycho-education, empowerment and stress reduction. The community building project takes place in Lagadikia, a small Greek village of 500 inhabitants where there is a refugee camp with just as many inhabitants. We are going to bring people from the camp and village together on the basis of shared interests and aspirations. By means of activities within that framework we will reduce the gap between the newcomers and host community.
Since May we have been working very hard on the preparation of the mission. The pilot phase will start in November. More information will follow.
Do you also want to commit yourself to this new mission in Northern Greece? Take a look at our vacancies and apply now!