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Aug14FriAthens Corps provides food for refugees, activities for children. August 14, 2015
The Salvation Army is providing a compassionate ministry to some of the thousands of refugees who have fled to Greece from north Africa and the Middle East. Up to 1,500 people are arriving every week at the Port of Pireas, Athens, with many setting up unoffical camps in the centre of Athens.
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Major Polis Pantelidis, from Athens Corps, has been supplying food parcels to people living rough in the parks, although this has proved difficult because the need is so great and he cannot take enough food for everyone.
Plans are in place to put together food parcels for people arriving at Pireas, to help them cope with the system of processing and registration that can take many hours. The provision of bread, food and drink will also offer opportunities for conversations and, the Salvation Army team members hope, will take away some of the fear for people who have fled atrocities and now find themselves in a strange country with little or no support.
At Athens Corps, children's activities are being run, attended mainly by young people who have recently come to Greece by boat. In a safe environment, they are given the opportunity to express their feelings and talk about their experiences through games and drawing. The activities are run by a group of up to 15 volunteers, with links being formed with other groups should more help be needed.
The Salvation Army will continue to do all it can to help the increasing number of refugees, though funding is proving difficult – especially as so many people in Greece are already facing hardship because of the economic crisis.
An article featuring The Salvation Army's ministry, written by journalist Jameela Freitas for The New Internationalist, is available online at: http://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2015/08/10/refugees-greece-migration/
A blog post by Anglican Bishop David Hamid gives more information about the ecumenical nature of the humanitarian response, featuring the Senior Chaplain of Athens, Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, as he works with Major Polis Pantelidis: http://eurobishop.blogspot.gr/2015/08/fr-malcom-in-athens-reports-on-afghan.html