The current situation of the refugees in Greece is slowly transitioning from emergency to stagnation. After almost two years of the start of the so-called refugee crisis, entire families remain stuck in isolated camps full of dust, most children don’t go to school and adults cannot work. Days are filled with boredom and uncertainty. The asylum-seeking process is incredibly long and highly opaque, condemning people to put their future and that of their children in the hands of a system they do not understand. The hope of finding a safe place to start again is gradually leading to a quiet despair and numbing frustration caused by months of waiting in vain.
In the midst of this paralyzing limbo, the work of lawyers is increasingly important and alarmingly scarce. People are lost trying to understand a foreign and complicated process. We try to explain the technicalities of the law, we offer them counseling and preparation for their asylum interviews, we help them navigate the heavy bureaucracy of the asylum-seeking process and we report any abuse by the authorities. But most importantly, we listen to their stories and their worries, we are there 24/7 receiving their calls when something urgent happens, we reach them in camps or detention centres when they cannot reach us and, ultimately, we let them know that we are there for them and that we will do everything within our reach to help them. After many broken promises and uncountable disappointments, letting them know they are not forgotten is, in my experience, the greatest gift.
Through our work here we see the best and the worst of humanity. The worst in police officers detaining people in inhumane conditions, immigration officials lacking empathy, refugee camps that resemble prisons and policies that force people to rely on illegal and dangerous methods to reach a safe place. But the best in the incredible bravery, resilience and extraordinary hospitality of the refugees and the total dedication, love and compassion shown by all the volunteers, coming from everywhere in the world and getting together to show the refugees that there is hope, that their children can have a future, that humanity lives.
To be able to continue doing this job and spreading hope we need some funding. To rent a car to reach camps that are not accessible by public transport, to print documents, to pay for transportation of refugees to the Asylum Office and to provide basic humanitarian assistance such as diapers and basic amenities when people need it. This is why we ask for your help. We all know many people who, although they are not able to come here to the ground, are incredibly committed to help welcome the refugees. We send this appeal to you, we are here on the ground, we will make sure that every penny goes to someone who needs it. Refugees are people like you and me, with names and surnames, with fathers and mothers, with sons and daughters, with fears and hopes. And they need our help. Only together we can give it to them.
Thank you for taking the time to listen. Any small help will do great things.
Chloé, Houria, Caterina, Lisa, Rosie and Pepa.
Advocates Abroad, where justice has no borders.