Update on 9/22/2015: Please see click here to read our team’s final report regarding Lesvos – SCMGreeceAssessment
Update on Greece 9/2/2015:
SCM is calling on all supporters, humanitarians, past-mission volunteers and the international community for assistance. After an initial report by our team in Lesvos, Greece we are more than ever concerned for the well-being of refugees who have made it this far. Basic necessities such as shelter, sanitation, access to food/water are needed ASAP. To be quite frank, this has been heartbreaking for all of us as personal accounts of extremes taken in an attempt to reach safety are heard and pictures of drowned children on shores circulate. It is even more heartbreaking for those who continue to experience it. We are pleading for a show of humanity. This is a direct action to help immediately…so we may ease the pain of those we seek to help.
At the start of September, SCM will be traveling to Greece with a small team to access the situation in the Greek Islands and provide humanitarian and medical aid. We have teamed up with a local NGO who have been on the front lines intercepting refugees from the beaches; working with a limited number of volunteers and supplies. SCM is currently collecting funds to provide emergency supplies such food, water, blankets and limited medication on the ground and in person during this upcoming trip.
In July of this year alone 50,242 individuals entered Greece’s borders by sea in pursuit of safety, which is more than all of 2014 combined. According the UNHCR, roughly 82% are of Syrian-origin, with the remainder from Iraq and Afghanistan . The total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year has reached a staggering 264,500 with roughly 160,000 landing in Greece and 2,300 lives lost in the journey.
The islands of Kos and Lesvos are seeing the majority of refugees touch base on their beaches. After a terrifying voyage, a very limited number of local NGO’s and Greek nationals are scrambling to accept them with food, water, and emergency supplies. Unfortunately, the UN reception centers are located across the islands. This leaves the refugees with anywhere from a 40-70 kilometer trek on foot to be processed by the UN . A local NGO, METAction has been attempting to provide travel assistance during this journey. For others, it depends on the kindness of Greek nationals.
The reception centers in place are often in unofficial locations such as parks, stadiums, fields and in one case in Kos- a police department. The UN has recently opened a new processing center in Eleonas, Athens which is available to house 700 refugees at capacity . This reception center is the most developed in all of Greece in response to the refugee crisis, but is still lacking basic medical and humanitarian assistance. Greek nationals have personally taken it on themselves to assist with food, shelter, and water in unofficial centers although they are struggling themselves with the harsh economy.
Although Greece is ultimately doing its best, its lack of infrastructure is felt by the refugees who wish to move on to other European countries due to a lack of resources and stability. SCM will be doing what it can to help, with your support leading the way.
Sources: Numbers of refugee arrivals to Greece increase dramatically. 18 August 2015. UNHCR. http://www.unhcr.org/55d32dcf6.html  Number of refugees and migrants arriving in Greece soars 750 per cent over 2014. 7 August 2015. UNHCR. http://www.unhcr.org/55c4d1fc2.html  Athens accommodation site opens for new arrivals in Greece. 20 August 2015. UNHCR. http://www.unhcr.org/55d5dc5f6.html