Tens of thousands of refugees in Greece and the Balkans have been left stranded across Europe eight months after borders closed across the Balkan route. These families have no choice but to brace for a winter of freezing temperatures without warmth in unheated tents, warehouses, or abandoned buildings. They face potentially life-threatening conditions unless urgent action is taken soon. Simple protection from harsh elements can mean the difference between life and death for many individuals.
Over 16,000 people are sleeping in overcrowded facilities on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, which have the cumulative capacity to accommodate just 7,450. The crisis stretches across the Western Balkans route, with over 14,000 people - nearly half of whom are women and children - now on the move or stranded. In Serbia, over 6,000 people are hosted in overcrowded government facilities or are sleeping rough in parks and other public areas with limited access to basic support.
Your gift helps the IRC respond immediately and effectively to protect and empower vulnerable, displaced families around the world and help refugees in 29 US cities rebuild their lives. The IRC distributes lifesaving emergency winter kits filled with warm blankets, coats and boots, protective sheeting and other critical winter gear to Syrian refugees and other families uprooted by crisis.
The IRC was one of the first aid organizations to assist the thousands of refugees who were arriving each day on the Greek island, Lesbos. IRC aid workers and partners continue to work around the clock in Greece and in Serbia to provide essential services to refugees living in terrible conditions. We are also working with governments, partners and donors to advocate for the transition of all refugees from camps and unfit housing to appropriate long-term accommodation in urban settings.