Warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags among winter kits in Greece as weather worsens

Published: 25 October 2016 14:37 CET

By Anita Dullard

At 8.30am, volunteers Eleanna and Dimitra began setting up for the Hellenic Red Cross’ winter distribution at Scaramagas camp, an old shipping yard on the harbor in western Athens. The chill coming off the water was a stark reminder to volunteers how urgently the people staying here need warm bedding and clothes in preparation for winter.

Eleanna has volunteered for 12 months with the Red Cross and Dimitra has spent a decade in its nursing division. They are two of 20 volunteers who helped out at Scaramgas to deliver blankets, sleeping bags, scarfs, hats and other winter items for the more than 3,400 asylum seekers and refugees living in its container accommodation.

“According to the Government, more than 60,000 people, mainly families, are stuck in Greece waiting for decisions on asylum and EU relocation,” said Tiina Saarikoski, operations manager for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Greece.

“We’re providing emergency winter items to people so that they can stay warm and dry, but we believe that enabling people to move out of camp facilities where conditions are poor, is crucial.”

In collaboration with other humanitarian organizations, the Red Cross has provided emergency winter items including thermal blankets, sleeping bags, raincoats, leggings, winter socks, warm hats, gloves and scarfs to people at seven different camps on mainland Greece.

“The European Commission continues to help refugees in Greece by supporting the delivery of these critical items as part of its 16 million Swiss franc pledge for Red Cross operations across the country,” said Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. “These winter kits will help people living in camps stay warm and dry this winter.”