Delivering emergency winter items to refugees in Greece

As winter beckons, temperatures in Greece are beginning to drop. Last week, the Hellenic Red Cross distributed urgently needed winter items to migrants and refugees who will remain in camps throughout the winter months.

Enabled by funding under the EU Emergency Support Instrument, the Red Cross distributions included items such as thermal blankets, sleeping bags, raincoats, leggings, winter socks, warm hats, gloves and scarfs. These were given to migrants and refugees at seven different camps on mainland Greece.

“As part of its €15 million assistance provided to the Red Cross through the Emergency Support Instrument, the European Commission continues to help refugees in Greece by supporting the Red Cross to deliver these critical items. This will ensure that people living in camps stay warm and dry throughout the winter,” said Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

“As the wetter and colder months begin to set in, the Red Cross is increasingly concerned about the welfare of refugees and migrants living in camps,” said Antonios Avgernions, President of the Hellenic Red Cross. “Distributing winter clothing and bed linen is one mechanism to support people who continue to be housed in substandard conditions.”

Since 2015, more than 1 million refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece. On 9 March 2016, the border between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece was officially closed. This led to the interruption of the transit route through the Western Balkans, resulting in around 60 000 refugees and migrants becoming stranded in Greece. The need for humanitarian assistance greatly increased on mainland Greece, as people required proper shelter, provision of clean drinking water and adequate primary health care.

To date, the European Commission has allocated €198 million under the EU emergency support instrument for assisting Greece with the current refugee and migration crisis. This aid comes in addition to relief deliveries by 19 European countries to Greece and on top of EU financial support through the funds for internal security and for asylum and migration.