Greece: food disruption hits refugee camps

Une crise alimentaire frappe les camps de réfugiés en Grèce

A food crisis is hitting the refugee camps where 60% of the population does not have access to enough food. The Greek government stopped food and cash aid on October 1. The situation is getting worse day after day. The impact is devastating, especially on children and pregnant women.

In Greece, 60% of refugees in camps lack access to sufficient food. For almost two months, a disruption in the provision of food and cash assistance has been affecting asylum seekers, recognized refugees and people whose asylum request has been rejected. One in four people affected by this are women. Two in five are children.

As of 1 October 2021, implementing a law passed last year the Greek government stopped providing food to people whose asylum applications have been accepted so they are considered to be recognized refugees. “Among the most harshly affected by this disruption are children and pregnant women. Children have to go to school hungry. Pregnant women do not receive adequate nutrition and are thus at risk for both their own health and the health of the fetus. A child who is not fed properly does not receive the basic foundations needed for her physical and mental development and may have chronic health problems,” reports Melina Spathari, Advocacy Manager of Terre des hommes in Greece.

Furthermore, 34’000 asylum seekers are not receiving the cash assistance they are entitled to receive, thus they have no means to purchase food, clothing, tickets for transportation and other essential items. To survive, refugees and asylum seekers resort to begging and other negative coping mechanisms. The population, already economically and socially marginalized, is now totally helpless. In an extremely precarious context, the residents of the camps are even more stigmatized.

After several requests from NGOs active in the country, the government made a public commitment to resume distributions by the end of October. A month later, the problem persists and is getting worse by the day. The impact is devastating and the fate can be tragic for this refugee population, including children.

"This kind of instrumentalisation of men, women and children in a migration situation is unacceptable! Unfortunately, this is one more violation of human rights and the list goes on. Belarus, Calais, the United States... It is time for governments to take their responsibilities and respond to the current migration context without resorting to this kind of inhumane treatment," deplores Barbara Hintermann, Director General of Terre des hommes.

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