Reuters — Many refugees are still arriving to the Greek islands, and reception facilities cannot keep up with the arrival figures. Danish Refugee Council is now opening op in Greece, initially on Lesbos, where the vast majority of the refugees, primarily from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, arrives.
More than 700,000 refugees have arrived in Greece alone in 2015 – and it does not look like the flow will stop any time soon. The reception capacity in many of the Greek islands is overstretched, and thus humanitarian organizations are needed to address the situation. Therefore, the Danish Refugee Council is now able to open up in Greece. Initially the organization will begin operations on Lesbos, where the work will consist of managing one of the big registration centres in cooperation with the Greek authorities.
“We will begin by camp managing the Moria registration centre on Lesbos, where chaos is reigning at the moment. We must, so to speak, manage the hotel; help with accommodation and ensure people have blankets and clothing and other basic necessities. The Greek authorities are responsible, and we look forward to working together with them. We will also focus on strengthening government capacity to undertake the task. In addition, the plan is to expand to other islands over the course of a few months and eventually open up in Athens, where most refugees end up passing through,” says Rasmus Stuhr Jacobsen, Head of Emergency, for the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), who was on Lesbos last week to access the situation.
DRC will also make sure that refugees get the right information – and in many ways help to ensure some kind of order in the chaos that reigns on the Greek islands.
“We have already sent employees to Greece, including for instance, people who speak Farsi. It is a special situation of having to work in an art transit situation where many of the refugees are moving on. But winter is coming and it is a completely different challenge to ensure winter help for people who are on the move than if they lived in a camp. Fortunately, we have many years of experience in all phases of the refugee route, and it helps us greatly in these situations,” says Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen.
In 2015 Greece has been the main entrance point for the refugees seeking to reach Europe and it has led to a great pressure on the country at the EU’s external border – and to a humanitarian crisis within EU’s borders.
“We never imagined that we would be required to operate like this within the EU. This has also meant that it took longer to start up than normal. Firstly because we had to be registered by the local authorities in order to do our work. Additionally it has been very difficult to get funding to work within the EU. These are not countries, where we normally do humanitarian work,” says Rasmus Stuhr Jakobsen, adding:
“We believe that this is a political crisis, and it is therefore essential to push for the EU to find a political solution to this. This is a challenge that is and should be manageable for EU to deal with.”
The Danish Refugee Council is the largest Danish humanitarian organization with more than 6,000 employees in nearly 40 of the world’s hotspots. DRC delivers emergency relief and long-term solutions to more than 2.5 million refugees and displaced persons each year in the regions of origin