Athens, Greece, January 24, 2022 — The hunger crisis in Greece continues as figures show that 40% of people living in Greek refugee camps are being denied food following a decision by the Greek government to stop providing food to people who are not in the asylum procedure. .
There are 16,559 people living in camps across Greece, including people waiting for their asylum claims to be heard and those whose claims have been accepted or denied. It has emerged that new catering contracts for the supply of food in these camps provide enough food to feed only 10,213 people, covering only those who are still in the asylum procedure and not those whose asylum application has been accepted or rejected. This comes despite calls from the European Commission for the Greek government to ensure that all people, especially the vulnerable, receive food, regardless of their status.
A worrying number of children, who represent 40% of the population residing in camps, are among those who suffer from hunger. Local primary school teachers reported children showing up to school without food, not even a snack to keep them going all day.
Dimitra Kalogeropolou, Director of IRC Greece, said:
“It should be untenable for people to go without food in Greece, a country that has the resources and the means to provide food and security for all. The IRC has been advocating for an end to this unacceptable situation since October last year, when a change in Greek law meant the government stopped providing vital services to those not in the asylum procedure. People are pushed to the limit; local organizations on the ground see children crying because they haven’t had a decent meal in days. Quite simply, we are witnessing conditions that could amount to a hunger crisis that will have a devastating impact on vulnerable people.
“Things have to change. People who have been granted refugee status in Greece are forced to stay in refugee camps because the lack of substantial integration assistance means they have no means of earning a living or renting their own accommodation . They have nowhere to go, and the state-provided food supply is the only way people have to feed themselves. As the Greek Ombudsman has stated, refusing to support refugees, especially without providing measures to ensure that their basic needs are met and that they can access services, is illegal and undermines integration.
The IRC began operating in Greece in 2015, when Europe was experiencing a peak in migration. What began as an emergency response on the island of Lesvos quickly spread to Thessaloniki and then to camps on the mainland. Currently, the IRC operates in Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Athens, providing emergency livelihoods assistance, women’s protection and empowerment and integration programs for recognized refugees.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore the health, safety, education, economic well-being and power of people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC works in more than 40 countries and more than 20 American cities to help people survive, regain control of their future and strengthen their communities. . Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC at Twitter & Facebook.