Press Release ECHO III
The Red Cross continues its work in Greece, by responding to the growing needs of refugees and migrants
Athens, April 27th 2018
The Red Cross continues its work in Greece, responding to the growing needs of refugees and migrants living in apartments and shelters in urban areas of Athens. While the provision of primary health care and psycho-social support services remains at the centre of its operation, the Red Cross also aims to increase the resilience and self-sufficiency of men, women and children by supporting them to enjoy their fundamental rights, for example to access social protection and public services. More than 8,270 people, victims of torture, unaccompanied children, single parents, chronic patients and elderly among others, will benefit from the programme, which is funded by the European Commission’s Civil protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO).
Nearly 21,000 refugees and asylum seekers are benefitting from the UNHCR's accommodation support scheme - in either apartments or shelters - available around 20 cities in Greece (ESTIA). The majority – currently more than 14,000 - live side by side with the local community in neighbourhoods across Athens. While they technically have similar rights, including access to essential services as their Greek neighbours, unfortunately, there are still many gaps (procedural, cultural and linguistic) that hamper this access, making ‘’urban refugees’’ very vulnerable and in continuous need of assistance.
Within the current programme, the Red Cross manages the following projects:
- The Educational Health Station (EHS) in Ambelokipi: specialised in paediatric care (also school enrolment medical check-ups); vaccinations and referrals to the Greek public health system are performed on weekdays and in a constant presence of qualified interpreters;
- Mobile Health Units: quick to respond to the imminent needs of Athens’ urban refugee population, the two mobile units, each equipped with a general doctor, nurse and interpreter, provide primary health care, vaccinations and health educational activities in a number of shelters or, when needed, also camps in the greater Attica region;
- Multifunctional Centre (MFC): This social hub in the heart of Athens represents a safe place for children, women and men of all ages and nationalities. It is a meeting point where one can start building his/her social network and feel accepted. Among others, the MFC also provides psycho-social support, Greek and English language lessons, after-school homework support, recreational activities, paralegal counselling and it also runs a telephone information and translation service;
- Accompanied referrals service, interpretation and cultural mediation: A skilled team of interpreters and cultural mediators, trained in local culture and language, is available to accompany refugees to their appointments at the public services. Currently, the team consists of 15 interpreters, many of them belonging to the second-generation refugees themselves. A state-of-the-art web and android based registration system has been developed to ensure efficient and effective response to the interpretation needs;
- Contingency planning and preparedness: this action will be further developed for the Hellenic Red Cross to respond in case of a new sudden influx of refugees.