Greece is going through a dual economic and refugee crisis. The two crises aggrave each other and create an extremely complex situation from a political and social perspective. In October 2015, more than 206,000 people passed through Greece. The vast majority of refugees who arrived in Greece continued their journey to northern European countries. Although the closing of the Greek border with Macedonia in early 2016 adds an extra complicating factor to the already fragile situation, important issues related to the future integration of these populations will emerge in the coming months throughout Europe, and especially in Greece, a country where reception conditions have deteriorated since the 1980s.
For refugees who arrive in reception centres after months of highly traumatic journeys and have been severely affected by the crisis (violence, loss, social breakdown), it is also essential to quickly take into account their psychosocial, educational and informational needs as they face these challenges of a return to a sense of normalcy in everyday life, with spaces to connect and reconnect as well as a stable work and school environment. Refugees also need assistance with their efforts navigating the administrative hurdles, as well as job-seeking or taking language classes.
The Ideas Box provides a flexible approach by offering outreach activities and tailored contents and allowing organizations already working with refugees to go meet them where they are present.
In this context, the program aims to implement a first set of 5 Ideas Box in Greece, the Balkans and Germany. Ideally, a total of 20 Ideas Box will be deployed for refugees along the roads of Europe and in countries where large populations of refugees are present.
After identifying the points where refugees gather with the help of local actors, Libraries Without Borders has set up the first 2 Ideas Box on particularly strategic locations: the Eleonas camp in Athens, which host almost 1000 refugees and the Moria camp in the island of Lesbos. The latter is a crucial refugee reception center, with more than two-thirds coming from Turkey passing through. The situation of unaccompanied minors in the Moria camp seems increasingly worrying and requires prompt support. The implementation of these Ideas Box is crucial because in addition to enabling refugee populations access to information and education, it will represent a key tool for other local actors.
To follow the implementation of both Ideas Box and the program, check out our blog here.