(By IsraAID in Greece)
In accordance with the European Union’s decision and its agreement with the Turkish government, the deportation of refugees from Greece to Turkey began this week.
This decision determines that every refugee arriving after March 20th 2016 will be immediately deported back to Turkey. In return, Turkey will receive a financial compensation from the EU.
IsraAID, an international humanitarian aid agency, has been working since last year in Greece and other parts of Europe, including Serbia, Croatia and the refugees’ final destination countries.
IsraAID’s teams, made up of Jewish and Arab Israelis, continue providing aid through the distribution of equipment, conducting medical procedures and psycho-social support, especially now that the tension between the local government and the refugees is worsening.
In recent days, refugees in different regions in Greece have begun protesting against the deportation decision.
IsraAID’s emergency teams, including medical professionals and psycho-social therapists, were deployed to accompany refugees and assure that they receive proper treatment and needed assistance during the deportation process.
Many of the refugees feel frustrated and face uncertainty regarding the future. Most of them have family members who already reached Germany, Sweden, Austria and Denmark, beginning to settle there with the hopes of reuniting with their families in the coming months. Although the deportation was expected to take place soon, many were caught unprepared and had to pack their few belongings swiftly, not knowing what will happen next.
The frustration grows in the camps containing thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and more, especially due to the fear of Turkey deporting refugees back to their countries of origin, which could cause life-threatening situations.
In 2015 alone, over one million refugees crossed the sea from Turkey to Greece hoping to reach refuge in countries like Germany by following the Balkan route. But the route was recently closed and thousands are stuck in refugee camps across Greece.
“IsraAID became a leading organization [across Greece], not only for its language advantage with Arabic-speaking teams, but also [in terms of] cultural understanding derived from cultural similarities and from IsraAID’s work in Jordan and northern Iraq,” said Naama Gorodischor, the organization’s International Programs Director.