The International Rescue Committee announced a new milestone in their partnership with the Western Union Foundation, to support refugees and asylum seekers stranded on the Greek Isles amidst undignified conditions without adequate shelter and crucial services.
In addition to immediate relief and integration support, the grant will support the IRC’s advocacy efforts at the national and EU level to influence refugee reception and integration policies in Greece and Europe.
Across the Greek islands, over 13,000 displaced people seeking protection in Europe remain stranded in dangerous and undignified living conditions. Despite recent efforts by the Greek government, to decongest the islands and improve the living conditions the difficulties in access to water, sanitation, shelter, safety, and services like education or healthcare amounts to a humanitarian crisis.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created further obstacles in accessing critical services and improving living conditions. Current migration policies in the EU and Greece have proven to be wholly inadequate in providing the resources and infrastructure necessary to protect the health, safety, and rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
Advocacy Manager for the IRC, Martha Roussou, explained: “When people escaping violence and war first reach the Greek shores, they are not allowed to leave the islands until they have received international protection. That is why this support from our partners at Western Union Foundation is more crucial and impactful than ever. It will address not only the immediate needs of the most vulnerable in Greece, but will support our long-term advocacy efforts to bring about much-needed changes in policies at the local, national, and EU level.”
The EU’s policy of containing displaced people in “frontline” countries (such as Greece) is flawed and has catastrophic consequences for thousands of asylum seekers living in inhumane conditions, without adequate access to services and support towards their economic inclusion/integration.
This grant builds upon the existing partnership between the IRC and Western Union Foundation dating back to 2016, which has supported a variety of IRC’s programs across the globe in addition to recent support for COVID-19 relief.