Greek Islands Winter Crisis

There is a winter crisis on the islands in Greece and all of our urgent help is needed. These are the updates from the volunteers on-the-ground in Chios, Samos and Lesvos.

CHIOS (Hanne Hoff, One Family - No Borders, translated)

“Chios are snowing and there is a desperate need to buy blankets for people in the refugee camp. People live in tents and sleep right on the plastic bottom of the tent. People are shaking with cold when they queue. At the last delivery I had a warm scarf that I warmed ice-cold hands with.

“If you want to be a fellow man then this is the right moment!

“We bought 265 blankets, but many more are needed. The blankets are about 200x240 cm, I think. Refugees in the camp say they are hot and that they dry quickly when they get wet.”

SAMOS (Ruhi Akhtar, Refugee Biriyani & Bananas)

For the women’s aid distribution that ran over two days we focussed on giving out socks, scarves and coats. Once we ran out of coats for the last few hundred women we had to give two jumpers instead. People need more than one coat as majority of the people are living in tents, washing facilities are scarce, wet clothing does not dry in this weather and it’s so cold people keep their coats on all day long and sleep with them also, so keeping them clean is difficult.

“On the first day tensions were high amongst the women. People are cold and many were afraid there wouldn’t be anything left for them. Our translators explained that we had enough and if we didn’t we would compensate with something else to keep them warm. They also explained that we were using a ticket system to cover all the ladies in camp in the fairest way possible.”

LESVOS (Sally Wainwright, volunteer)

“Yesterday I posted a video of Moria with the words "Nothing to say". But actually I have plenty.

“Last night a young man died. He was 24, from Cameroon, and shared his tent with a friend of mine. He's not long been in Lesvos, coming with his dreams of safety and a chance at life.

“It's suspected that the cold killed him (it's been freezing the last couple of nights and snowing in parts of the island.) But there's been hardly any electricity in Moria for a week - in fact, it's been off a lot since the week before Christmas.

“People are living in tents, in the freezing cold, with no heating, no lighting, no way of cooking, and no way to charge their mobile phones which keep them in touch with the world.

“In Athens they have opened shelters because of the cold. Here in Moria, they leave people in little summer tents with insufficient blankets, food or medical attention.