Responding to the refugee crisis in Greece
In recent weeks, Fr. Malcolm has received an increasing number of questions about the refugees arriving in Greece and the response of the Anglican Church in Athens to this ongoing humanitarian crisis. In order to inform the greatest number possible, he has summarized the Chaplaincy’s response to the refugee crisis since last September.
An update on what the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens has done so far – and how you can help
The Rev. Canon Malcolm Bradshaw writes:
From the outset, the Anglican Church in Athens has played an active role in seeking to alleviate the drama of the hundreds upon thousands fleeing war and insecurity. Thus:
- The Anglican Chaplaincy has been instrumental in bringing together eight mainstream Christian denominations in Athens, so that they can co-ordinate their work and provide mutual support. Monthly meetings are held to review the situation and assess the actions undertaken.
- Since October, four Church delegations from the UK have been hosted in Athens to witness the crisis and meet up with NGOs – to get the story out…
- Fr. Malcolm has made two trips to the UK to tell the story, the latest being in December when he assisted a fringe meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England
- Two appeals have been set up in the UK to seek money for the refugee crisis, as a result of the delegations mentioned above and Fr. Malcolm’s trips. One of these has already collected over half a million pounds.
- An Advent appeal for our Diocese regarding the refugee crisis was written up by the Chaplaincy.
As the recipient of monies from donors in the UK and throughout the Diocese for the refugee crisis, the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens has been:
- Checking out programmes and distributing monies from the UK to specific relief-work projects carried out by NGOs among the refugees, as well as
- Helping families that have experienced trauma and are seeking relocation.
We also negotiated the assistance of a ‘facilitator’ from the UK to assist the Chaplaincy in its response to the crisis.
If you personally want to make a response, here are some suggestions:
- You could be the means and focus of collecting from your contacts specific items that are most helpful, for instance: socks, pampers, toiletries, and sleeping bags. You need focus only on one of these categories (or more) and advice can be given as to where they can be sent. Please note that, at the moment, there is an overwhelming amount of clothing, although a new centre will be opened towards the end of the year able to take any amount of clothes, blankets and shoes. This said, we need to wait until it is fully operational – but you can start collecting now.
- If you want to be more hands on, then volunteer help is needed at Elliniko, which is now the largest reception centre for refugees in Athens and where a wide range of assistance is needed. However, this would probably mean signing up (for authorization purposes), being on a rota and committing specific hours each week. There is also some talk of providing some basic training for volunteers.
- Lastly, fund-raising is always welcomed – whether this is done locally, or through personal contacts abroad.