WHO ARE WE?
We are a self-organised coalition of independent volunteers, teams, and small organisations providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Northern Greece. We are based in and around Thessaloniki where we contribute to efforts in around 20 refugee camps, providing diverse support in terms of food and clothing distribution, hygiene, shelter, psychosocial support, medical care and information services.
This website offers information and support to those who want to volunteer, collaborate or donate to grassroots humanitarian efforts in the region. Northern Greece Volunteers is supported and administered by the Help Refugees Greece team.
At the bottom of the page are just a few of the dedicated projects and teams hard at work across the region. Check out the profiles below, and the links to each project’s Facebook or website and fundraising pages.
WHO ARE HELP REFUGEES?
Help Refugees is a grassroots organisation providing humanitarian aid to refugees across Europe and the Middle East. Alongside funding projects, we have on-the-ground operations in France and Northern Greece, where we help to coordinate donations and volunteers for a network of grassroots groups and independent volunteers. Our Help Refugees HUB is based at a warehouse site in Northern Greece, just outside of Thessaloniki. From this HUB, we help to support the incredible grassroots groups working tirelessly on the ground with funding, resources, and volunteers, to ensure that these operations can be sustained and continue to deliver humane and dignified support within the camps, urban areas and community centres in which they operate.
WHO ARE INDIGO VOLUNTEERS?
indiGO Volunteers works in collaboration with Help Refugees to coordinate volunteers for almost 35 groups in Northern Greece and the wider region, including those focused on construction and carpentry, legal and information services, medical groups, kitchen projects, community centres, and groups operating within or alongside camps, etc. Volunteers come to us with all different backgrounds, experience and availability – from 3 days to 6 months, from doctors to high school graduates. We recognise that it is difficult to independently find a volunteer placement that makes the most of your time and experience, so we have tried to bridge the gap! Our role is to match up the skills and availability of volunteers to groups that have the greatest demand / need for help at the time, in order to help support a full range of different groups and projects across the region.
WHY ARE WE HERE?
In 2015, record numbers of refugees attempted the perilous Mediterranean crossing into Greece. Over 1 million people, mostly fleeing war and persecution in their country of origin, journeyed into Greece, along the Balkan route and beyond to seek refuge. Many successfully made it to their destination countries in central and northern Europe.
However, in March 2016, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia fully closed its border with Greece. Over 10,000 refugees were left stranded at the border in Idomeni, a small town near the border, consequently forming a huge unofficial refugee camp. Volunteers and NGOs from across the world rushed to the scene to support those who were bottlenecked in northern Greece, in urgent need of medical care, information, food and clothing distribution, shelter, and wash facilities, amongst many other vital services.
On the 24th May, Greek authorities commenced the eviction process of Idomeni, and the relocation of residents to almost 50 former military camps across the Greek mainland and islands. They were joined by those who arrived from Turkey to the Greek islands before the EU-Turkey deal was instated. As of 01 August 2017, there are over 55,000 refugees registered within the camps and urban housing projects in Greece (including the mainland, islands, and UNHCR accommodation scheme). Shelter programs, NFIs, and other major services are managed and provided by the state in cooperation with UNHCR, EU and various other INGO’s. Meanwhile, grassroots organisations help to respond to the urgent needs and gaps in services, as the situation and demands continue to change.
NOTE: Please be aware, the refugee situation in Greece and across the Mediterranean changes almost daily. If you would like to stay up to date with the latest numbers, demographics and accommodation mapping, please visit the UNHCR website for more information.