CAFOD responds to refugee crisis on Lesbos

3 November 2015

Thanks to your donations, CAFOD is working with local Church volunteers to provide emergency aid to refugees as they arrive in Greece.

Please donate to our refugee crisis appeal

As winter approaches, thousands of people are risking their lives every day to cross to Greece, many with little more than the clothes they are wearing. The vast majority are fleeing war and oppression in their own countries.

Aza, 21, recently reached the island of Lesbos with her nine-month-old son. She said: “We left Syria because of the war. We saw a lot of blood, a lot of destruction. Everything was expensive and we didn’t have any food.

“They told us that there would be 35 people in our boat but when we arrived there were more than 200. We were in the sea and the engine stopped. The first thing we did was call the coastguard but they didn’t come.

Caritas Hellas are providing:
  • 60,000 food packs
  • 4,000 baby kits, including nappies and milk
  • 4,500 rain jackets to help people cope this winter
  • 40 chemical toilets and five showers

“The engine was full of smoke. My son was vomiting and he couldn’t breathe. I was praying to God so he could save us. I saw lots of people pray. All of them were crying. And all of them were scared.”

Thanks to your donations, we are working with our partner Caritas Hellas to support refugees like Aza as they arrive on Lesbos and other Greek islands, as well as at the border with Macedonia.

These people could be us

The response is led by Church volunteers like Len Meachim, who moved from the Wirral to Lesbos 30 years ago. He said: “They’re not coming just to have a better life, but to have a life. The least I can do is help them.

“They’re incredibly relieved when they arrive, which I think shows the danger they have been through to get here.

“What really strikes me though is that these people could be us. When you look at them they are not really that different from any other family.”

Temperatures dropping

CAFOD’s Laura Purves, who is providing specialist humanitarian support to Caritas Hellas, said: “People in Greece are showing extraordinary compassion towards the refugees, but, with a struggling economy, it's a challenge for the Greek government to provide all the help that’s needed.

“As temperatures drop across Europe, the next few months will be very difficult. The donations of Catholics in England and Wales mean that local Church volunteers can provide food, nappies for babies, raincoats for winter and sanctuary to those who need it most.”

As well as working in Greece, we are providing food, healthcare and emergency supplies to thousands of refugees in Serbia, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. We are also providing aid to people within Syria whose lives have been torn apart by the war but who cannot afford to leave the country. Find out more about our response to the refugee crisis

Please join us in praying for the refugees and please donate to our refugee crisis appeal.

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