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March 1, 2016
Chief Rabbi

Greek crisis: World Jewish Relief responds


Greek crisis: World Jewish Relief responds

The refugee crisis within Greece has intensified this week. We are discussing with our local partners on how to scale up the project on the Greek / Macedonian border, responding to any new needs of the medical unit, funded by our refugee crisis appeal.

There are now up to 30,000 refugees trapped in Greece and the embattled Greek government has edged closer to declaring a state of emergency to deal with the situation. The Migration Minister, Yannis Mouzalas, has estimated that this number may rise to 70,000 within one month if the borders don’t open again.

Only Syrian and Iraqi refugees who clearly express their wish to seek asylum in Germany due to the war in their country are allowed to travel from Greece to Macedonia to Germany. Those who say they want to work, study or reunite with their families in the EU are pushed-back. Authorities are checking stamps in refugees’ passports and if they find a stamp that shows a refugee has stayed in Turkey for more than 30 days, they may consider this person is coming from a ‘safe country’ and will not allow them to pass through.

The situation in ‪Eidomeni, where World Jewish Relief has been working and the Chief Rabbi visited late last year is dire, as more than 8,000 refugees are stranded there, many without basic necessities such as food and shelter. Desperation has turned into violence, after hundreds of refugees were pushed towards a wire fence. Macedonian police, on the other side of the fence, responded with tear gas and shock bombs, causing chaos around the fence.