Where we work
We support displaced people facing food insecurity and adverse living conditions in Athens.
Where we work
Project Armonia was founded on the Aegean Island of Samos in 2019, in 2022 we relocated our work to Athens in mainland Greece.
Greece: an ever-evolving crisis
Here in Greece, displaced people face impossible situations of hunger, homelessness, insecurity and social exclusion.
In 2015, Greece was unprepared when it became the primary entry point for more than one million displaced people. With overburdened services and a lack of responsibility sharing from other EU member states, it left thousands of displaced people waiting for months or years in overcrowded, inhumane reception conditions.
Over the past years, the context has shifted from a situation of lengthy waits at the land and sea borders to one of denied asylum, alleged pushbacks at the borders, the introduction of new, more hostile policies from both the EU and Greek Government, and the construction of remote Closed and Controlled Access Centres that have been described by residents as ‘prison camps’. Furthermore, over the past years, the distribution of displaced people has shifted dramatically from the Aegean islands to mainland Greece. 2021 was the first year that more people entered Greece via land rather than sea borders making support on the mainland vital. Overall, 63% of people arrived by land compared to 38% in 2020, and just 1% in 2015 (according to UNHCR statistics).
The situation in Athens
Over the past years, the closure of inner city camps; the eviction of many squatted buildings housing displaced people in Athens in 2019; delays in access to support; the planned closure of ESTIA housing scheme; and the movement of people from overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands to the mainland, has led to a situation of homelessness and abandonment in Athens.
On top of this, food insecurity is widespread issue in Athens, where many people simply cannot afford to access healthy and nutritious food. In late 2021, 33 NGOs declared the situation in Athens and the surrounding areas as a hunger crisis for displaced people who face severe access issues.
There are many displaced people that have been left in limbo without any documentation, unable to officially enter the asylum system, due to changes to existing asylum policies and procedures. Without this, people have no access to state support such as housing, food, healthcare and cash assistance, nor the labour market.
For those people who are granted asylum, insecurity often does not come to an end. State support and benefits are suspended 30 days after asylum is granted in Greece leaving people in impossible situations, struggling to support themselves. Language barriers, bureaucratic hurdles and almost no functioning integration schemes offered by the state, people struggle to find paid employment.
Life has become significantly and purposefully more difficult for displaced people and the current approach based on hostility and deterrence in Greece is not sustainable. Rather, there needs to be an approach based on solidarity, inclusivity and community.
Media resources to learn more
People risk their lives to make the crossing to Europe, expecting safety. Instead, they are met with dangerous, unsanitary and deplorable conditions. If you want to know more about it, please find below links about the situation on the ground.
- ‘Greek government blamed for hunger crisis in refugee camps’ – The Guardian, 24.01.2022
- ‘Greek asylum policies creating refugee hunger crisis: Aid groups’ – AlJazeera, 03.12.2021
- “All I want is to be free and leave”. Life in the Closed Controlled Access Centre in Samos’ – Europe Must Act, 18.12.2021
- ‘Worse than in Syria’ – Zenith, 07.06.2021
- Samos – a hotspot once more? – Action for Education
- Report on means to address the human rights of pushbacks of migrants – United Nations Human Rights Council, 12.05.2021
- EU sends mixed messages on Turkey as ‘safe’ haven – EU Observer, 09.06.2021
- EU powerhouses ask Greece to do more to take back migrants – Politico, 03.06.2021
- Frontex at Fault: European Border Force complicit in ‘illegal’ pushbacks – Bellningcat, 23.10.2020