Greece

Country Facts

DRC present since:

2015

Staff on location:

313

Displaced population:

103,500

Displacement Situation

More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking a humanitarian crisis as countries struggled to cope with the influx. Greece, and particularly the Greek islands, quickly became one of the primary entry points into the EU for new migrants. This dramatic increase in migration sparked a political crisis, and divisions on how to handle the influx became a major point of contention between European countries. 

Initially, borders within the EU and Balkan states were closed to discourage the northward movement of people, and the EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016 fundamentally altered the function of the arrival hotspots. Since then, the Greek approach seeks to contain new arrivals to the islands, restricting access to mainland Europe. In practice this means that arriving migrants are subject to a two-track system, with significant differences in context between the islands and mainland. 

DRC Response 

DRC began operations in Greece in November 2015, contributing to the emergency humanitarian response at the Moria transit site on the island of Lesvos, and expanded operations to the mainland in 2016.  

With offices in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa and until January 2020 on Lesvos island, DRC is one of the key humanitarian actors operating in the country. Today, Greece struggles to ensure that reception and accommodation facilities are dignified, well staffed, culturally appropriate, and respectful of humanitarian standards. Migrants are also in need of timely information, legal aid, and integration opportunities.  As such, DRC works to close these gaps, employing evidence-based methods in responding to emergencies when needed, and supporting the Greek authorities in developing a sustainable refugee reception and integration system. 

DRC works at nine sites on the Greek mainland providing site management services, along with food, water and sanitation, protection, legal aid, and non-formal education. In urban settings, DRC supports migrants with cultural mediation and integration courses that include language and soft skills.

In cooperation with IOM, DRC runs following joint projects:

  • Improving the Greek Reception System through Site Management Support and Targeted Interventions in Long-Term Accommodation Sites
  • Supporting the Greek Authorities in Managing the National Reception System for Asylum Seekers and Vulnerable Migrants (SMS)
  • Hellenic Integration Support for Beneficiaries of International Protection - HELIOS

Contact

Claus Larsen

Regional Director

[email protected]

Alba Cauchi

Country Director

[email protected]

Vassiliki Mitsiniotou

Advocacy & Communications Advisor

[email protected]

Theodora Gazi

Data Protection Specialist

[email protected]

Snapshots

Creative activities in the Schisto camp

Greece is home to large numbers of refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. On a mandate from the Greek authorities, the Danish Refugee Council runs a number of camps where we provide everything from food, shelter and sanitation to local democracy, counselling and education. Pictured above, one of our staff performs creative activities with some of the children in the Schisto camp.

Creative activities in the Schisto camp

Greece is home to large numbers of refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. On a mandate from the Greek authorities, the Danish Refugee Council runs a number of camps where we provide everything from food, shelter and sanitation to local democracy, counselling and education. Pictured above, one of our staff performs creative activities with some of the children in the Schisto camp.

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