While focus on the European refugee crisis may fluctuate with news headlines, the UN Refugee Agency’s commitment is unwavering. A year ago this month, the image of the drowned three-year-old boy, Alan Kurdi, renewed attention to the dangerous journey refugees take everyday to flee violence.
USA for UNHCR supporters are with refugees at every step of their journey and are helping the UN Refugee Agency address existing and new challenges.
For example, when new roadblocks aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe left thousands stranded in Greece, UNHCR was on the ground, assisting refugees as they dealt with changing conditions. One of those vulnerable families was Nisrine Shiko, 34, and her five children.
Three years ago, Nisrine’s husband was killed by a bomb in Aleppo, Syria. No longer safe in her home country, she and her family made the treacherous journey to Europe — only to be forced to endure miserable conditions at a makeshift camp in the border town of Idomeni in Greece.
"It was very hard. The filth, the rain, the lightning, the wind. I was exhausted."
During her stay at Idomeni, the camp swelled to six times its capacity, and supplies of food, water, shelter and medicine ran short. Conditions were especially hard for women and children, who made up almost 60 percent of the population.
Thankfully, after months in Idomeni, Nisrine and her children were transferred to a newly built, UNCHR-supported site at Lagkadikia in northern Greece. In this new home, the family finally had a reason to smile.
"We found humanity here. We have food, supplies for the children, a doctor as well. I’m happy and I feel totally safe."
When Nisrine’s family arrived, the Lagkadikia site was hosting just a few hundred people, mostly from Syria and Iraq, but it will eventually welcome 1,400 people. There are plans to create a public kitchen, a medical clinic and a school. UNHCR will also integrate residents into the nearby community and begin to offer cash assistance — boosting the local economy by enabling mothers like Nisrine to shop for food and other necessities. Even more important, she will be able to cook and sit down to meals with her children — and give her family a much-needed sense of normalcy.
Thanks to USA for UNHCR’s steadfast, generous donors, UNHCR has the resources to restore dignity and hope for vulnerable refugees in Europe, Syria, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, South Sudan — and crisis points all over the world.
Here’s how you can help …
By becoming a USA for UNHCR monthly donor, you can provide food, shelter, medical care and education to vulnerable refugees every day of the year in every corner of the world. Start making a lifesaving difference with your monthly gifts today.