Cooperation for Refugees in Greece – Past, Present and Future

Members of the panel from left to right: Moderator: 1. Andreas Takis, assistant professor in Philosophy of Law at the School of Law of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 2. Evangelos Petratos – ECHO’s humanitarian’s expert in Greece, 3. Nicholas Conolly Rangos – Ministry of Migration Policy, Regional Coordinator for North Greece and Epirus – Advisor to Minister, 4. Odysseas Mavroskamnias – Identification and Reception Service, Diavata Camp Manager, 5.Dr Agis Tarzidis – Vice president of the board of Hellenic Center for Disease and Control Prevention, Consultant to the Minister of Health. Scientific Coordinator of the PHILOS project. 6. Panagiotis Ananiadis, Regional Director of Primary and Secondary Education of Central Macedonia.  7. Mokhtar Rezai – Representative of the Greek Refugee Forum and the Afghan refugee community and 8. Eleana Ionnidou – Representative of UNHCR

A special event hosted by Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Deutschland e.V (ASB), Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA) and Association for the Social Support of Youth (ARSIS) took place on December 6th, 2017, in Thessaloniki City Hall

In order to mark the completion of the European Commission-funded project and explore recommendations for the future, ASB, together with its implementing partners on this project – WAHA International and ARSIS, hosted the event in the City Hall earlier today. The event was hosted by Sofia Aslanidou, the Municipal Counselor in charge of Refugees and Immigrants Protection and the Chairwoman of the Council of Refugees and Immigrants Council of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, and presented the project’s results and learnings from the past 18 months and was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the project’s key stakeholders discussing the wider refugee response in Greece.

The theme of the discussion was Cooperation for Refugees in Greece – Past, Present and Future. The participants at the panel were the respective representatives from the Reception and Identification Service, Ministry of Migration Policy, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), UNHCR and representative of the Greek Forum of Refugees. After the brief introduction remarks by each panelist, questions were taken from the floor. The panel discussion was moderated by Mr Andreas Takis.

“This multi-sector action has enabled the establishment of suitable accommodation, as well as the provision of community services, such as medical care, extra-curricular education, protection, legal and social activities,” said Evangelos Petratos, European Commission humanitarian expert in Greece.

“Out of one chaotic situation at the beginning, we came to the point of having the organized help and response. We all took it as our responsibility and did our best to help. We still do, there are new arrivals to our islands every day, and let’s not forget that the winter is coming. Our work continues, refugees deserve to be able to live decent lives, to pay the rent, to send kids to school”, said Nicholas Conolly Rangos, Regional Coordinator for North Greece and Epirus, Advisor to the Minister of Migration Policy.

“The most important fact is that the refugees want to continue their lives, to study, to work, to contribute the society. Refugees need few basic information when they arrive. Where they can get the paper as the permit to live in this country now, with the refugee status, but now or how they can apply schools and universities and continue their education”, said Mokhtar Rezai, representative of the Afghan refugee community and the member of Greek Forum for Refugees.

Details of the project:

Since June 2016 ASB, WAHA and ARSIS have been implementing a multi-sector action that addresses the urgent need for refugee assistance in Greece. The 9.3 million worth project – Support to Refugees in Greece through Integrated Shelter Model – Rapid Mobility Solution (ISM – RMS), funded by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), has reached over 6,000 beneficiaries until now.

The project has been implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Migration Policy, Reception and Identification Service, Ministry of Health, Project Philos and Kelpno and the Ministry of Education.

Activities carried out by ASB under the project

ASB Greece activities were focused on construction of long term shelter solutions to the refugees and providing Site Management Support services. Long term shelter has been provided through the installation of 156 modular container units (each one consisting of two bedrooms, living room, a bathroom and kitchenette) and through rehabilitated premises in the camp for 30 unaccompanied minors, benefiting a total number of around 1,000 refugees. In addition to that, a building for extra-curricular educational activities, building used as praying space and a multipurpose sports court are being finalized by the end of this year.

Site Management Support services include:

  • Technical support – maintenance and repair of the onsite facilities and monitoring/control of the processes for new arrivals
  • Information management – monitoring the referrals to all the services on and off site
  • Feedback and complaints mechanism – a help desk which functions Monday to Friday 11.00 – 13.00 providing a service for refugees to register their complaints and feedback on the facilities and services provided at the site. The helpdesk aims to resolve all issues within 48 hours.
  • Setting solid and trusting relationships with the community
  • Identification of gaps and needs in services
  • Security management
  • Policy setting and advocacy at the field level (raising the concerns of refugees with the authorities)

Activities carried out by ARSIS under the project

ARSIS Greece is providing protection, legal aid, social activities and informal education activities in Diavata and Lagadikia sites. From January until the end of July 2017, ARSIS provided services and managed a shelter for 30 unaccompanied minors in Pylea (Panorama). Previously in the project ARSIS were also present in Nea Redestos and Vassilika Asprovalta (St George Hotel). In total, more than 1,200 individuals have received support from ARSIS’s team of social workers, psychologist, lawyers, educators and translators.

Activities carried out by WAHA under the project

WAHA International focus on reproductive and child health and provide primary health care and facilitate referrals to secondary health care (through the national public health system) in: Diavata, Derverni, Lagadika, Loutra Volvis, Alexandria and Epanomi. Previously in the project WAHA were also present in: Gianitsa, Nea Redestos – Vassilika, Thessaloniki Port, Ktima Iraklis, Asprovalta (St. George Hotel) and Mouries. Additionally, WAHA have organized different seminars and workshops for refugees through campaigns for breastfeeding and awareness raising about conditions such as diabetes. In total, WAHA International has conducted 34,977 consultations through their medical team of doctors, pediatricians, gynecologist, nurses, midwives, translators and cultural mediators.

About the European Commission’s department for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)

The European Union with its Member States is a leading global donor of humanitarian aid. Through the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), the EU helps over 120 million victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, ECHO provides assistance to the most vulnerable people solely on the basis of humanitarian needs, without discrimination of race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation.


Clare Nubel, tel. +30 2313 073448, mobile: +30 6998261267, e-mail:

European Commission

Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela, tel. +32 2 296 53 22, mobile: +32 460 79 17 16, e-mail:;

Daniel Puglisi, tel. +32 2 296 91 40, mobile: +32 460 76 73 74, e-mail: