We launched our Refugee Crisis Appeal in September 2015 to help large numbers of people arriving in Europe after fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East.
In 2015, more than 1 million people came to Europe, most of them escaping from war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. At first, they came to the coast of Greece before continuing towards western Europe, with the hope of building a safer life for their families there.
But as country borders started to close and people were prevented from travelling further, families became separated and many found themselves stuck in overcrowded camps, often without access to basics such as clothing, water and food.
The camps were not safe places, particularly for children, and many people staying there developed mental health problems following their highly stressful experiences.
In 2016, and for most of 2017, around 10,000 refugees were counted in Serbia and 50,000 in Greece – with little hope of being reunited with their loved ones or of being allowed to apply fairly for asylum.
What we achieved
Thanks to our supporters' generosity, and other funding sources, we were able to raise more than £2.8m during the appeal.
In the first year of our Refugee Crisis Appeal, we focused on meeting people's basic needs:
- While large numbers of refugees were still arriving in Europe and then moving on, we gave 46,828 people in Serbia access to clean water, showers, hygiene kits and food, and also gave out 38,836 cash cards.
- We also gave 32,403 people clothing, clean water and food on the Greek islands of Chios, Samos and Kos.
In the longer term, with our appeal, we aimed to help refugees settle into their local communities:
- From 2016, we focused our efforts on helping refugees in Greece to feel secure, supported and part of the local community.
- Our partners gave people legal aid and psycho-social support, they provided special accommodation for unaccompanied children and families headed by women, and opened up spaces where refugees and local people could meet and build a new, shared community.
How we work in an emergency
We're based in countries affected by disasters so we can be there before, during and after an emergency to save lives and support people long term. Through our work with local organisations in these countries, we can talk directly to the people affected to provide the most useful emergency response.