Extremely cold temperatures, wind and snow around Europe have claimed many casualties this season. Vulnerable people — including refugees — are dying from hypothermia. With an eye towards assisting those in need, ADRA Slovenia started ‘Let’s warm them!’, a project to help refugees currently lodged in Greece.
Distributing warm clothes, shoes and heating for refugees, the project has been officially supported by several well-known individuals, including Danilo Türk, a former president of Slovenia and a candidate for the United Nations Secretary General; Ivo Vajgl, member of the EU parliament; and Nikolas Protonotarios, the Greek ambassador to Slovenia. In just three weeks ADRA Slovenia raised more than $21,000 U.S. dollars (€ 20,000), with donations still coming in.
This involved ADRA Slovenia becoming front page news in the nation for a couple of days, and people generously responded to the call to supporting ADRA’s work in Greece.
At a press conference, Türk praised ADRA Slovenia because it works quickly, effectively, and in areas where most needed.
"The project, ‘Let’s warm them!,’ is a valuable humanitarian initiative,” Türk said. “But even more than that: it reminds us that we, as citizens of the European Union have a chance to do something good for the poor on the other side of our common European home.”
According to European Parliament member Vajgl, it’s important to deal with the causes, rather than the consequences, of the humanitarian crisis. He endorsed ADRA Slovenia’s initiative, because it helps to strengthen a sense of solidarity, one of the European Union’s key values.
"For the lack of solidarity those who exploit fears, prejudices and ignorance of the cultures of refugees for political points should be held responsible,” Vajgl said. “This project is important because it raises awareness among the public about the bad living conditions of the refugees, or life-threatening situations in their homelands which they are running from.”
Greek Ambassador Protonotarios thanked Slovenia and its citizens for showing solidarity towards refugees.
Two ADRA Slovenia volunteers are working in Greece as part of a first response team, supported by the Greek government. They have already provided warm clothes in the refugee camp in Nea Kevala Polykastro, and in another camp warm shoes are being distributed. Being part of the first response team allows ADRA Slovenia to react to urgent needs, especially as conditions in the camps change daily, particularly as more people arrive at the camps.
This project is important because it raises awareness among the public about the bad living conditions of the refugees.
The weather is still very cold and infrastructure continues to be stretched, with breakdowns in the water systems, exacerbated by electricity and heating outages. Some camps have, thankfully, been temporarily evacuated in recent days because of pressure from the international community. Some refugees are escaping the cold in hotels, boats and other alternative shelters. Many however are still in the camps, others are arriving at camps having been pushed back from other countries, and some are in shelters without access to resources such as water and electricity.
Current urgent needs include the need for clean underwear. This is a high priority item due to low levels of supply and frozen water supplies means people are unable to launder their underwear/clothes.
ADRA is also reaching out to more camps with a vegetable delivery service. Food provided on camps is basic. People really want to cook for their own families. Providing fresh vegetables to people right now can help their physical strength.