Vital services for refugees in Greece at risk as many NGOs lose funding

From August 1st the majority of EU funding to NGOs providing services for refugees is instead being paid to the Greek government.

While many NGOs have had their funding cut, there are strong concerns that an uncoordinated and poorly communicated transition to the Greek state providing services is already resulting in substantial gaps in areas as basic as food provision, education and medical care.

Not enough shelters.

One particularly worrying area is the provision of shelter for unaccompanied children. In Greece there are over 2,250 unaccompanied children currently in need of shelter, but only 1,270 spaces available. Around 1,000 unaccompanied children are therefore on a waiting list, with some living in squats, sleeping rough, or placed in ‘police protective custody’ (detention centres) while they wait. As a result of this transition, at least five shelters for unaccompanied children are set to close, leading an increased number of children being placed in ‘police protective custody’ or simply having to sleep on the streets.

The lack of clarity around whether funding for NGOs will continue, or how vital services will be provided moving forward is putting huge pressure on smaller-scale grassroots refugee charities in Greece, which lack the capacity to fill the potentially huge gaps in service provision left by this transition.

Unless steps are taken to ensure this process is completed quickly, efficiently and transparently, this transition is likely to have a negative impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of thousands of vulnerable refugees currently living in Greece.

British charity Help Refugees started providing a wide range of support to refugees in Greece nearly two years ago. Founder and CEO, Josie Naughton, said this about this crisis:

“Something as basic as a handover plan, or a lack of one, is putting refugees lives at risk. NGOs are now cutting services and it will be the most vulnerable people that suffer the consequences. Safe shelters for minors are already being shut down, forcing more children onto the streets and into the hands of smugglers.

Grassroots groups have been filling the gaps for more than two years, but this time round we simply don’t have the resources to pick up the pieces.”

ENDS

Full media briefing on the affects of the transition can be found here.

For information and interviews contact Tom Steadman at tom@helprefugees.org / +447460053586

We don’t have the same budgets as major INGOs, but we do have incredible volunteers who want to help. Please help us support those who will be negatively affected by these changes by donating here.

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