In 2015 and 2016, over 1 million refugees made transit through Greece, most of them Syrian and Iraqis who cross from Turkey to Greece by sea before continuing to their final destination. As the border has become more restricted (and ultimately closed in early March) a build-up of some 15,000 people in appalling conditions in Eidomeni brought international focus to the new situation of Greece as a holding area for asylum-seekers at the fringes of Europe. The EU-Turkey common statement in March 2016 created a second holding zone in Greece’s Eastern islands, with about 60,000 people trapped in Greece and no longer able to proceed to northern Europe.
Some 30-40 camps have been established around mainland Greece with varying standards of organization and adequacy. Despite apparent availability of funding from mainly European sources, a lack of centralized management and coordination between the various parties involved has led to serious delays in dealing with issues, particularly concerning the most at-risk vulnerable groups.
ABOUT METADRASI: ACTION FOR MIGRATION & DEVELOPMENT
METAdrasi is a local NGO that focuses on refugee services not covered by the Public Authorities or other NGOs in Greece and is the only organization that retains a permanent front-line presence in all key entry and exit locations.
METAdrasi’s projects include interpretation services, providing specialized legal services, escort service,, guardianship, foster care and transit accommodation for unaccompanied children and Greek language courses.
METAdrasi now has a core team of 175 people, 350 active interpreters in 37 languages in 30 locations, 25 trained escorts for unaccompanied minors, 40 trained members of the Guardianship Network and 36 lawyers on the islands.
The Bodhi Tree Foundation is proud to be supporting METAdrasi’s new Refugee Integration project. With the relative stabilization of refugees and conditions of refugee populations in Greece, the issue of their activity and integration in society is of primary importance. Young people especially are stranded with no option and ability to find a way of channeling their skills and energy. METAdrasi aims to provide essential support for integration to populations that wish to remain in Greece, through basic support and educational training (primarily language classes and vocational classes).