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May 24, 2016
Chief Rabbi

Idomeni Refugee Camp


Men and women refugees walking in a line near large tents

Idomeni refugee camp

This week, police in Greece have begun to move refugees staying in Idomeni refugee camp, on the Macedonian border to more formal accommodation elsewhere in Greece.

The population of more than 8,000 refugees primarily from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are in Idomeni because they hoped that the border at Macedonia would re-open and allow them to continue their journey onwards into Europe. However, the border has remained closed since March and with it unlikely to open again, Greek authorities now wish to accommodate them in more appropriate circumstances. Inevitably to date refugees have not wanted to leave Idomeni, willing to put up with dire shelter facilities for the possibility that the border would open.

Supported by World Jewish Relief, our local partner Praksis has been treating many refugees, primarily women and children on this border post from infections and injuries sustained from their treacherous journeys to Europe and the terrible living conditions. We will continue to work with our local partners to adapt programmes going forward to meet the evolving needs of refugees.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis, who visited the camp back in November to see the work of World Jewish Relief, reflected:

I’ve met people whose lives are literally on the line. Speaking to refugees has made me see the trauma people face could be eased if Europe would sufficiently assist all those who are in need.

As this crisis continues, World Jewish Relief continues to do what it can to assist those fleeing conflict in Syria and ensure they are treated with respect, humanity and dignity. Our key focus remains on those refugees situated in Turkey close to the Syrian border, assisting them with educational and social inputs and encouraging them to stay close to their country of origin rather than risk their lives and travel to Europe.