Advent Appeal Targets Relief Work In Greece

The Diocese and the Anglican mission agency Us (formerly USPG) are working together to give funding to an emergency centre for refugees at the remote Pharos Lighthouse on the Greek island of Lesvos.

The refugees arrive cold and wet having crossed 15 kilometres from Turkey, typically making the journey in small rubber boats crowded with up to 50 people in each. Many make this dangerous crossing at night to avoid the Turkish coastguards that patrol during the day. They come mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan having fled conflict, chaos and persecution in those countries.

Attracted by the lighthouse beam, the refugees that land on the rocky shore are soaked through, tired and hungry. Yet they are still six kilometres from the nearest village, Klio, which is a minimum six-hour walk across often-difficult terrain. It is therefore essential for the health of the refugees that they have dry clothes, food and, in many cases, medical care and shelter before they continue their journey to safety, preferably with a volunteer to act as a guide.

Refugee expert Max McClellan, who is working with Us and the Diocese in Europe, says: ‘The work of the lighthouse team is critical and well-targeted. They are looking to expand their operation as quickly as possible. It is clear that the situation on Lesvos is much more chaotic than we have been led to believe.’

Two abandoned buildings next to the lighthouse will be renovated and converted into a clothes-changing area and a field kitchen. There will also be tents to provide shelter for refugees and volunteers. Volunteers will begin working at the centre round the clock, seven days a week.

As well as providing refugees with food, clothing and medicines, volunteers will be supplied with ropes to help refugees climb up the rocky shores, and safety helmets and headgear for children and babies. There is also a need for wetsuits, night vision binoculars, heaters, lighting and walky-talkies.

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