In spite of worsening weather on land and sea, the number of refugees from Syria and other war torn countries landing on the Greek isles this year has surpassed 500,000. Greece remains the busiest entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean. Overwhelmed Greek island authorities lack the resources to continue feeding refugees as the country struggles to address the needs of its own people affected by the economic crisis now in its sixth year.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), and its partner, Apostoli, the humanitarian arm of the Church of Greece, are responding to the most urgent needs of vulnerable refugees with food assistance and helping ease some of the strain on Greece’s refugee relief efforts. IOCC is providing up to 1,000 hot meals and water daily to refugees landing on the small Greek island of Chios, and up to 1,000 meals and water daily for refugees on the island of Samos. All food sourced by IOCC for the refugees is being prepared by local restaurants to help support the local economy on these small islands.
The influx of Syrian refugees arriving at Chios island’s outdated immigration reception center also have access to shower and sanitation facilities upgraded by IOCC so that they can take care of their personal hygiene in privacy. In addition, IOCC has distributed sleeping mats, sleeping bags, personal hygiene kits, infant supplies, and school kits to refugees and school-aged refugee children arriving at the center.
Even as Greece continues to receive refugees to its shores, IOCC continues to address the needs of Greeks facing their own food insecurity as a result of the prolonged economic crisis. Since 2012, IOCC is supporting the distribution of dry food parcels, prepaid grocery cards, and hot meals at church-run soup kitchens in Athens.
IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is providing immediate and ongoing humanitarian assistance to families in need who have endured four years of Syria’s brutal civil war. More than 3.2 million Syrian people displaced in their own country, or living as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Armenia, Greece, and Serbia have received assistance from IOCC.
IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered $534 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in more than 50 countries. IOCC is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 140 churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy, and a member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.–based secular and faith-based organizations working to improve the lives of the world’s most poor and vulnerable populations. Learn more about IOCC here.