Islamic Relief aid workers are to arrive in Greece tomorrow, to assist refugees on the island of Lesvos.

Islamic Relief staff speak to a refugee at Pikpa camp, a previously disused site now run by local volunteers.

Islamic Relief staff speak to a refugee at Pikpa camp, a disused site run by local volunteers.

In July, over 50,000 vulnerable people arrived in Greece – more than during the whole of last year. The situation is changing rapidly, and there is no clear information about others who may be undertaking often perilous journeys get to the country’s shores. Most travel by dangerous sea routes, typically on flimsy boats, across the Mediterranean in a bid to reach safety in Europe.

Humanitarian actors in Greece are struggling to meet the needs of vulnerable people, most of whom have fled catastrophic conflict in Syria as well as others escaping instability in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. According to the UNHCR, the vast majority are likely to qualify for refugee status.

Along the harbor of Mytilene, refugees wait to board a ferry to Athens so they can continue their journey.

Along the harbor of Mytilene, refugees wait to board a ferry to Athens so they can continue their journey.

Refugees face hardship upon hardship

A needs assessment carried out by Islamic Relief on Lesvos last week highlighted significant hardships faced by refugees reaching one of the largest Greek islands. Local services are straining to cope and those that cannot be housed in overcrowded and ill-equipped transit camps have no choice but to sleep on the streets. Greater numbers of women, children, and pregnant women are being recorded amongst the new arrivals. We have found that refugees urgently require basic items such as sleeping bags, buckets, and soap – as well as help to access the services and support they need.

Our disaster response personnel will coordinate with other humanitarian actors in Lesvos to determine how best to assist and will work closely with partners on the ground. It is thought likely that a range of essential items will be provided to refugees, as well as cultural mediation services to help new arrivals to access vital services and much needed advice.

Islamic Relief also continues to support refugees in Italy, with clothing, meals and translation services, and is closely monitoring the situation through our other offices in European countries.

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