Thessaloniki Refugee Solidarity Movement, Greece
The Syrian civil war has triggered a massive humanitarian crisis. 11 million Syrians have been displaced with four million people fleeing the country, seeking refuge in neighbouring countries and across Europe. A quarter of those seeking refuge in Europe are children.
On a daily basis refugees mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq began arriving on the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios and Kos after taking the dangerous boat journey from Turkey. On their journey towards Western Europe they started to stay at the bus station in the centre of Thessaloniki. Families with small children, pregnant women and unaccompanied minors endured temperatures of +30°C, a lack of basic sanitation, food insecurity, homelessness, and vulnerability to exploitation and violence.
In June 2015 locals started showing solidarity with the refugees by providing water, fruit, bread and toys for the children. An inspiring example of solidarity and compassion, the Thessaloniki Refugee Solidarity Movement was born and began supporting up to 2000 refugees per week in Thessaloniki and also started to support groups at the border working with 8000 refugees per day. Local volunteers organised in providing food and drink, clothing, emergency provisions and information and advocacy to all those who required it.
In the summer of 2015 the Mandala Trust launched an appeal in support of the work being carried out by the Thessaloniki Refugee Solidarity Movement. In the autumn of 2015 the Mandala Trust provided funding to purchase large catering tents, kitchen equipment, electric heaters and catering provisions in order to support the refugees crossing the border at Eidomeni with hot food and drinks, information and support, and a warm place to rest before the harrowing journey ahead. The Mandala Trust is proud to support such a worthwhile, compassionate community response to such a terrible human tragedy.