Greece is one of the main gateways for asylum-seekers entering Europe. According to UNHCR there were over 180,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Greece at the start of 2020. The Goodwill Caravan Centre is a hub, in Athens, for refugees and asylum seekers to gain access to vital services including:
Legal Support Food Bank Essentials Packs Support for accessing local service eg healthcare, welfare etc Skills workshops Child-friendly spaces for respite and childcare whilst seeking services
Between 800 – 1000 refugees and asylum seekers use the hub every month, most are families with young children.
Travelling to the centre can be hazardous. Refugees need to access essential services, including medical assistance, which could be almost 100km away from their make-shift camps. Many asylum appointments take place in the early hours of the morning, in some cases, refugees would need to leave the night before. Refugee families would leave by foot, in darkness opening themselves up to any of the gangs operating in and outside these camps. This has resulted in multiple deaths in the past. Many have also been hit by cars or have had accidents on the way to Asylum Centres. A safe regular bus service prevents crime and death by road accident and gang violence. The asylum system in Greece is woefully inadequate, it can take up to two years to get an asylum appointment. If this appointment is missed families wait a further two years for the next appointment. Missing an appointment because of inadequate and timely transport options means extending a refugee’s stay at the camps by two more years; this leads more than a few desperate refugees to give up and take their lives.