NEWS

Refugee Centre in Lavrio on the brink of collapse

The lack of Administrative Committee jeopardizes the asylum-seekers’ unit in Lavrio

Lina Giannarou

lavrio-refugee-centre

Meat has not been available for months. Bread has not been available for approximately 15 days. It is a month since any hygiene-related supplies arrived. Recently, medication, too, has been cut off. During the last few months, all the suppliers have interrupted their co-operation with the Refugee Centre in Lavrio. The only one that has not, in spite of being unpaid too, is a grocery store owner. His vegetables and fruits constitutes the aenaimic help received today by 230 Afghan and Kurdish refugees (mostly from Syria), including 75 children that live there.

The Refugee Centre in Lavrio was instituted in 1949 and is an open facility operated by the Red Cross. It is not a first reception centre, but a unit that accepts asylum seekers, that is, refugees who have claimed recognition of their status as fleeing war and persecution in their countries. These cases require usually 2 years to determine – a time during which they have the right to reside and eat at the centre. Most of them are unemployed or work as seasonal workers, while the minors attend classes in local schools.

The problems of financing the operation of the centre started three years ago, however the present situation is a cul de sac. The staff is unpaid for 10 months. The pact between the Ministry of Labor and the Hellenic Red Cross, was pending since last fall, it was finally signed a few weeks ago, but the funds could not be used because there was no council of trustees set for the Red Cross. The management of the Hellenic Red Cross was forced to resignation last September after pressures by the international organization on the Greek government (there were outstanding payments of the Greek counterpart to the international organization, issues with the article of association etc.)

Last Friday, through controversial procedures (there were 10 instead of 22 board members that the court had ordered), a temporary board was formed in the Red Cross, president being the Bishop of Glyfada Mr. Pavlos. However, the Ministry of Health characterized the temporary board  as ‘non-reliable’, extenuating the anxieties of the working staff. The staff of the Red Cross (476 people) is unpaid for a year now (yesterday they received part of the money). A hundred and fifty are witholding work and the rest are working voluntarily. Due to these problems the Hellenic Red Cross will not run its usual fundraising this year. “We have been present in all national tragedies with the exception of the current economic crisis”, the staff say to ‘K’.

All the above result in the situation in Lavrio. The running of the Refugee Centre is entirely based on donations now. At this moment there is a great need for meat: chicken and beef. For those eho would like to contribute, the address is Danoukara 1, Post code 19500, Lavrio (22920-22414).

Translated from ‘Kathimerini’ newspaper, 31/10/2013, online at: http://www.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_kathremote_1_31/10/2013_525534

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