On the front lines

UNHCR’s all-out effort to relieve the suffering of refugees

March 1, 2016

© UNHCR/H. Holland

As the refugee crisis in Europe continues to grow, so does UNHCR’s response to handling the continuing flow of refugees into Europe.

Watch how UNHCR helps refugees at their most urgent time of need:

Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters crowd into boats that shuttle them across the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Cold, damp and exhausted, they wash ashore on foreign islands with nothing but the dream for a better life still flickering on in their hearts.

They have no plan and no one to turn to. That’s when our donors and UNHCR step in.

In 2015 our donor´s gifts provided arriving refugees with
– 379,106 sleeping bags, mats and thermal blankets
– 101,178 warm winter jackets, raincoats, socks and gloves
– 26 metric tons of food
– 170,470 bottles of water
– 600 emergency field staff to assist vulnerable refugees and speed up registration and access to further assistance

Right away, UNHCR staff lead the boats to land. The tiniest babies are wrapped and warmed in thermal blankets. Shivering girls and boys are handed dry clothes. Families are kept together and receive food and water to ease their hunger. The sick receive urgent medical care.

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After the confusion and chaos settles, the refugees receive organized assistance thanks to UNHCR’s on-the-ground efforts to help every step of the way in the journey toward peace.

“What they need most is what to do next. When they arrive, they’re not sure what they need. Many of them are cold, they’re wet. They need food, they need water, they need assistance and they need guidance,” explains Massoumen Farman-Farmian, Senior Emergency Officer for UNHCR.

The refugees board vans that take them to a site that provides them with the immediate essentials – more dry clothes, food and water. Their second stop is a registration center where they have access to wireless internet and charging stations to contact those they’ve left behind.

They all send the same message back home to worried friends and family: We made it. We’re safe.

As more and more boats arrive, UNHCR is ramping up efforts to receive refugees and get them the life-saving aid and guidance they need. Boat arrival points – stationed with Greek lifeguards – are now up and running on the northern shore of Lesvos. They’re equipped to provide temporary shelter and emergency assistance to any refugees who wash ashore.

At a time when borders are closing and attitudes are changing towards refugees, our donor´s generosity restores hope in the hearts of refugees around the world.