11 January 2017
Severe winter weather in Greece is bringing fresh misery to the 62,000 refugees who have been living outside in unsuitable camps.
Temperatures in northern Greece have reached as low as -15 degrees Celsius in recent days. Camps throughout the country have been blanketed by snow.
The Red Cross is working to ensure adequate care and improve the living conditions for the refugees who will remain in Greece for an indefinite period of time.
In preparation for winter, the Red Cross distributed emergency winter kits to people across the country last month.
People have been given thermal blankets, sleeping bags, a rain coat, leggings, winter socks, a warm hat, gloves, scarf and long sleeve fleece top.
We have also upgraded the flooring and insulation in some tents to guard against the cold.
The inadequate nature of camp accommodation has been compounded by the harsh winter weather.
In northern Greece, some people housed in abandoned industrial warehouses had to deal with water and electricity cuts.
Bottled water has been shipped in where pipes have frozen. Kerosene heaters have been provided to those people living in outside containers.
The Red Cross in Greece is calling for people to be moved out of tents into longer term and more dignified housing.
Jennifer Scott, our refugee crisis programme manager, said: “The British Red Cross is highly concerned about the situation for vulnerable refugees in Greece and in other parts of Europe.
“Over a year after arriving in Greece, people are still living in tents and old warehouses. Their safety, health and lives are at risk when they live in camps that are not adequately prepared for freezing temperatures or snow.
“People are dependent on fragile and temporary heating systems to avoid freezing.”
The Red Cross is also providing cash support so people can make their own choices about their daily lives in the camps where they may stay for months.
Pre-paid cards are topped up monthly so people can buy what they need most – be it food, medicines, clothes, mobile phone credit, or public transport.
The pre-paid cards are available to people who have had their identities confirmed as part of their asylum application in Greece.
The Hellenic Red Cross, supported by Movement partners, including the British Red Cross, will continue to work across Greece.
Our relief work has been adapted to meet the needs of families stranded in the country for the long-term.