CAFOD scales up work on Greek islands as thousands more refugees arrive daily

Exhausted arrivals in Lesvos

From Independent Catholic News:

With up to 4,000 refugees arriving every day on the island of Lesvos alone, CAFOD is working with Caritas Greece to provide food, water, emergency supplies and safe sanitation to those most in need.

CAFOD has committed £80,000 to support the Caritas response to the refugee crisis in Greece, particularly focusing on Rhodes, Lesvos and crowded border crossings into Macedonia. The agency has deployed specialist humanitarian staff to coordinate the response and to set up water and sanitation projects to help prevent the spread of disease.

Patrick Nicholson, Director of Communications at Caritas Internationalis, is on the island of Lesvos. He said: “It’s a dramatic situation. Thousands of people are arriving here daily. By the beach at dawn, we met Syrian families with small children and a woman who was eight months pregnant, all cold, wet, exhausted and bewildered. Their first reaction as they reached dry land was to burst into tears. Then they looked round to check that they’d all survived.

“They are an exhausted mass of humanity looking for safety. They say they had no choice to leave: they would either die in Syria or die at sea. Right now, the port is awash with Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis, all looking to leave. Conditions are basic but improving. Caritas volunteers have been able to give people sleeping mats and bags. There’s also a sense of jubilation… People hope that the worst is behind them.”

On the island of Chios, Evelina Manola, a Caritas Greece aid worker, describes conditions for refugees as “inhumane”. Hundreds of people are sleeping in a park by the port, hoping to travel onwards to mainland Europe. She said: “It’s really hard for the people in the park, especially for the women. There are only two small toilets. There isn’t enough clean water. They sleep out in the open. Some families have the mats that we gave them. Others are sleeping on cardboard boxes or just the floor, without anything. It’s really sad… What we’re doing is a help. It might just be a drop in the ocean, but it’s still a drop.”

Many of the refugees are determined to travel north, often with the aim of reaching Germany or Sweden. As well as working in Greece, CAFOD is supporting Caritas Serbia in providing food, drinking water, medical help, legal support and shelter to refugees as they make their way across the country.

Abdalkarim Zahra, 26, left Syria because he didn’t want to fight, and paid people smugglers to take him across the Mediterranean on an overcrowded rubber dinghy. Over the last few days, he has been staying in Kanjiža, a Serbian town 3.5 kilometers away from the Hungarian border.

He had not heard of Caritas or CAFOD before arriving in Europe, but is grateful for the support he has received. “Thank you,” he said. “It’s good to know that something like this exists… In these aid camps for the first time after so many exhausting weeks, I felt I was treated as a human.”

More than 467,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the International Office of Migration – more than double the number who made the journey in the whole of 2014.

CAFOD is accepting donations to support its response to the crisis at

Hot off the press-the new CAFOD Liverpool newsletter (Whit 2011)

You can now download the CAFOD Liverpool newsletter. In this issue, we have a sneak-peak of the making of the new Connect2: Rwanda CD by the pupils and staff at Holy Cross RC High School in Chorley.

Holy Cross RC High School in Chorley recently signed up to Connect2: Rwanda. To raise money for Rwanda the students decided to record a CD full of original material-written by the young people themselves. They sang all the songs themselves and played their own instruments too! They then not only sent their CD to the community of Musha but also sent lots of letters, photos and messages of support too!

We also celebrate the great achievement of the CAFOD Support Shop in Crosby (the only CAFOD charity shop in the world) who have raised over half a million pounds in just 18 years!

The newsletter  features all the news from parishes, campaigns and schools in the Liverpool Archdiocese including a special appearance by the Dragon’s Den team and the latest Egghead celebrity.

Also find out how YOU can meet some of CAFOD’s partners from Rwanda in the summer!

To download the Liverpool whit newsletter, just click here:

CAFOD Liverpool newsletter (Whit 2011)

Fancy meeting you here…..

News at ten have heard reports that four world leaders were spotted in Liverpool yesterday including David Cameron, Barack Obama, Zillur Rahman (the Bangladeshi president) and Wen Jiabao (the Chinese prime minster). They were spotted next to a giant pinata (shaped like the earth)which was being hit by sticks by business men and women

Rumours suggest that this was part of a media stunt by MARGJIN (a group of charities which include CAFOD, the Liverpool World Centre, OXFAM, Friends of the Earth and Christian Aid) to raise awareness about the UN climate talks currently happening in Cancun.

Afterwards David Cameron was even kind enough to visit the CAFOD Liverpool office to thank CAFOD for all it’s great work abroad!