9 November 2015 - Christian Aid’s Refugee Crisis Appeal, launched in September to deliver humanitarian aid to those affected by the crisis, has topped £1 million.
Nick Guttmann, Head of Christian Aid’s Humanitarian Division, said: “We owe a huge thank you to those who have responded so generously to help refugees across Europe and the Middle East.
“Sadly, the numbers seeking refuge continue to grow and harsher weather conditions as winter sets in will exacerbate the suffering of those trying to find safety.
“Thanks to the kindness of the UK public our partners in Europe and the Middle East will continue to provide essential supplies such as food, blankets and warm clothes to those facing fear and uncertainty.”
The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, estimates that some 760,000 people have made the perilous Mediterranean crossing this year alone, mainly to Greece and Italy, after fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa. Around 430 people have died while making the crossing from Turkey.
Greece remains the busiest entry point for new sea arrivals, with more than 500,000 arriving on Greek islands in 2015, but the authorities lack the resources to meet the growing numbers.
In Europe, Christian Aid’s partners in the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church- related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, are providing emergency relief in Greece and Serbia.
ACT Alliance partner the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is on the ground in Greece helping new arrivals.
Biljana Mihajlović, IOCC regional programme officer, said this week: "The thousands of refugees we are encounterin daily on the Greek islands of Chios, Samos and Kos arrive exhausted, chilled to the bone in their wet clothes, and often not knowing where they have disembarked.
“IOCC, with our local relief partner Apostoli, is providing some comfort to them by distributing food, drinking water, hygiene kits, and sleeping bags, but the needs are still great."
The IOCC is providing up to 1,000 hot meals and water daily to refugees landing on each of the islands of Chios and Samos. All the food is being prepared by local restaurants to help support the local economy on these small islands.
In Serbia, Christian Aid is supporting another ACT Alliance partner Philanthropy in delivering food, blankets, warm clothes and raincoats, as well as showers, toilets and hygiene items.
In the Middle East, Christian Aid continues to support partner organisations in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon in providing refugees and people internally displaced with food, bedding, hygiene kits and health services. In Lebanon and Iraq our partners are also working to provide psycho-social support to children and women in need.
On Wednesday leaders of European Union member states will meet their counterparts from a number of African countries at the Valetta Summit in Malta, to discuss their collective response to migration generally. Christian Aid is deeply concerned by the apparent basis for the meeting’s agenda.
Jenny Brown, Christian Aid’s Senior EU Adviser, said: “The EU has got things the wrong way round. It’s starting from the premise that all migrants, including refugees, are a problem to be kept away from its borders. It should be far more concerned about ensuring that the human rights, safety and dignity of those seeking refuge in the EU are upheld rather than excessively focusing on border control concerns.”
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk