No Man’s Land: Do refugees face a ‘never-ending story’?

When our world was summoning its resources to battle Covid-19, it was easy to lose sight of people displaced by war.  Their struggle is in no way reduced by the fact it has lasted so many years. Quite the opposite.   

Last year, we wrote about a dangerously over-crowded camp in Lesbos, the Greek island nearest to the coast of Turkey and, therefore, an entrance to the EU for refugees streaming up from the Middle East, Northern Africa and beyond.  

This year, that danger turned into a tragedy. The camp, designed to house approx. 3000 people, has had many times more than that and lacked the needed cooking, washing and sanitation facilities to cope with its swollen numbers. In September, a massive fire broke out displacing 13,000 people. “Knowing the limitations placed upon them on the island, we can’t imagine where the people have fled to,” said Director, Sally Begbie, who visited the camp not long ago. 

Because our Global Hand service is virtual, an ‘online warehouse’ rather than a physical one, it did not have to close during the worst of Covid’s impact.  We were offered a wide range of goods that went to refugees. They included personal hygiene items, sleeping bags, hundreds of shoes and clothing of many kinds:  

  • warm hats 
  • sweatshirts 
  • hoodies 
  • joggers 
  • training pants 
  • rainwear 
  • quilted coats 
  • t-shirts 
  • football jackets 
  • shorts  
  • tracksuit pants 

In addition to donated goods, we reached out to our global network for emergency funds.  

The need continues in this area of indescribable desperation. All financial help and all relevant donated goods are welcome. Following the devastating fire, there was hope for things to get better, but they have only, according to reports, become worse.    

The United Nations’ Relief Web wrote, ‘Oxfam’s EU migration expert, Raphael Shilhav, said: “When Moria burnt down, everyone said ‘no more Morias’, but conditions in the new camp are even worse. There’s very little water, the shelters are flooded and battered by wind, and people have been fainting from lack of food. 

‘Rather than relocating asylum seekers to proper shelters where they would be safe, they are being trapped in destitution and misery in another abysmal camp.’ 

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