Oxfam International Blogs - Stand As One http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/stand-one en Dear Family: Refugees in Greece write to their loved ones http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-06-19-world-refugee-day-love-letters-people-stranded-greece <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Forced migration separates families</strong>. It wrenches children from their parents and grandparents, separates siblings, forces partners to live apart, and destroys extended family networks. During the past months Oxfam has interviewed people that have been stranded in Greece and asked them to share their experiences during their perilous journeys to Europe and the separation from their family.</p><p><strong>The right to family life</strong> and the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-greece-family-unity-190617-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">protection of the family</a> is a shared value that cuts across cultures.</p><p>People who were separated from their family told us about the severe implications of separation in their lives, and wrote letters to their loved ones in other EU member states.</p><p></p><h3><img alt="Abdul from Herat, Afghanistan. Credit: Felipe Jacome/Oxfam" title="Abdul from Herat, Afghanistan. Credit: Felipe Jacome/Oxfam" height="412" width="300" style="float: right;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/abdul-300.jpg" />Abdul from Afghanistan</h3><p>Abdul from Herat, Afghanistan hopes to reunite with his wife and son in Germany. He wrote a heart-warming letter to them, while he waits for his family reunification request to be processed in Epirus.<br><br>“Greetings to my wife Zahra Ahmadi and to my dear son Mohamad Taha Jan that are now in the city of Hamburg, Germany.</p><p>"I hope both of you are in good health and spirit. I hope one day I will be next to you and once again we live together. May God protect both of you.<br><br>With respect,<br>Abdul Algafar Ahmadi”</p><p></p><hr><p></p><h3><img alt="Afrin, from Northern Syria. Credit: Felipe Jacome/Oxfam" title="Afrin, from Northern Syria. Credit: Felipe Jacome/Oxfam" height="414" width="300" style="float: left;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/najat-300.jpg" />Najat from Syria</h3><p>Najat fled with only a few members of her family from the town of Afrin, Northern Syria and she now lives in Epirus, in Greece.</p><p>She hopes to reunite with her oldest son who arrived in Germany in 2016. Her letter reads:</p><p>“My dear son Mohannad, how are you? How is your health?</p><p>"I am your mother in Greece. Thank God that we are OK, nothing is missing, except seeing you and your brothers.</p><p>"How’s your health, and everything else? Let me know about yourself."</p><p></p><hr><h3><br><img alt="Hazem, a 20-year-old Syrian asylum seeker who lives in Greece. Credit: Felipe Jacome/Oxfam " title="Hazem, a 20-year-old Syrian asylum seeker who lives in Greece. Credit: Felipe Jacome/Oxfam " height="450" width="300" style="float: right; margin: 0px 0px 10px 10px;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/img_9566-hazem-300.jpg" />Hazem from Syria</h3><p>“Hi, I am Hazem, I hope you haven’t forgotten me yet.”</p><p>Hazem, a 20-year-old Syrian asylum seeker who lives in Greece, shared his feelings about the separation of his family, and sends a powerful message to European governments:<br><br>“I am almost 20 and I live in an apartment in Ioannina, working as an interpreter/cultural mediator for an NGO called Terre des Hommes. My main work is in the community center of Ioannina.&nbsp; […] I am in touch with my family, my mum, who has stayed with my little brother back in Syria, my brothers, who are in Germany, and my sister, who lives in a camp in Konitsa. I haven’t seen my brothers for two years and my mum for almost 1 year and a half. […] My mum and my brother are still in Syria. We couldn’t find a way for them to join us in Europe or even to be in a safe site [in Syria]. Now, they are a bit safe because of the ceasefire in Idlib […] But anyway, this is not a permanent solution, it is a painkiller!!</p><p>"Honestly, I miss my mum the most, I miss her hugs, her presence inside our home, her delicious food, and everything related to her. I am still stuck in Greece having a sharp desire to continue my studies in medicine which were interrupted due to conflict and study also about cultures and religions, how they affect each other, and how to approach people from different backgrounds. […] I want to take the next step and learn a new language and integrate with the society. […] It is still hard to feel stable. I am worried about the rest of my family and this is a sharp challenge. Regarding that, I have something to say to the European governments: We are still human, please, support the family reunification more and give it more importance […]. Because people are suffering from family dispersion and I am one of them. […]”</p><hr><p>The EU, and its member states, are failing to protect the right to family life for migrants, including refugees, as Oxfam’s new policy brief ‘<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/dear-family-how-european-migration-policies-are-keeping-families-apart" rel="nofollow">Dear Family</a>’ showcases. Their policies and practices are tearing families apart, forcing them to continue living apart after being separated during displacement and exposing people to risks.</p><p><strong>How will the EU respond to Hazem and so many others like him?</strong></p><p><em>Since January 2015 more than 1 million women and men fleeing war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty entered or passed through Greece in search of safety and a better life in Europe. Oxfam is working in Athens, Lesbos Island and the Epirus region of North-West Greece, responding to the urgent needs of people arriving.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/refugee-and-migrant-crisis/greece%20" rel="nofollow">Please support our work</a>.</em><br><br><em>This entry posted by Angeliki-Nika, Advocacy Officer, Oxfam in Greece, on 19 June 2017.</em></p><ul><li><em>All b&amp;w photos: credit <em>Felipe Jacome/Oxfam</em></em></li><li><em><em></em></em><em>Top photo: Samia lives with her husband and three of her children in Filippiada site, and her husband is very sick. She is hoping to be reunited with her other two children who are in Germany. She hasn’t seen her son now for two years and her daughter for 6 months. Credit: Felipe Jacome/Oxfam</em></li><li><em>Hazem was <a href="https://www.oxfamnovib.nl/dit-doen-wij/over-oxfam-novib/ambassadeurs/ariane-schluter" rel="nofollow">interviewed previously by Oxfam Novib</a> (in Dutch). Photo credit: Angelos Sioulas/Oxfam<br></em></li></ul><h3>What you can do now</h3><p><strong>Read the Oxfam report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp-greece-family-unity-190617-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">Dear Family: How European migration policies are keeping families apart</a></strong></p><p><strong>Learn more about <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/refugee-and-migrant-crisis/greece%20" rel="nofollow">Oxfam’s response in Greece</a></strong></p><p><strong>Join the global movement to <a href="https://actions.oxfam.org/international/stand-as-one/petition/" rel="nofollow">push Governments on helping refugees and migrants</a><br></strong></p><p><strong>Read more blogs on <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/tags/greece">Oxfam helping refugees and migrants in Greece</a></strong></p><p><br><br><br></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Dear Family: Refugees in Greece write to their loved ones</h2></div> Mon, 19 Jun 2017 13:21:33 +0000 Angeliki Nika 81106 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-06-19-world-refugee-day-love-letters-people-stranded-greece#comments How a smartphone connects people stranded in Greece to safety, information and family http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-12-02-smart-phone-connects-people-stranded-greece <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>When someone first suggested that we buy smartphones</strong> for refugees and migrants stranded in the sites in Epirus where Oxfam works, my reaction was to laugh – a smartphone seemed like a luxury that shouldn’t be covered by a humanitarian response.</p> <p>Since arriving in Greece, Oxfam has covered a lot of the traditional humanitarian response. We’ve provided toilet containers, fixed sewerage systems, built laundry basins, given out garbage bags and toiletries and cleaning equipment – the list goes on and on.</p> <h3>Filling the information gaps</h3> <p>And while it is all essential, I often suspect that the most valuable thing we have given to people stranded in Greece is information. Our team of amazing Farsi and Arabic speaking officers spend hours answering people’s questions; they keep information boards filled with the latest news, and they work out what the information gaps are and how we or others can fill those gaps - and in Greece it sometimes feels like there are just gaps and nothing else.</p> <p>So, despite my initial reaction, I realized that smartphones are not a luxury item – in 2016 they are essential for people on the move. So, over the past few weeks, we have started to give every family a phone.</p> <h3>Information is power</h3> <p>A phone provides access to more information than any of our Community Engagement Officers could ever hope to give through visits or printed information.</p> <p>More importantly, a phone gives people, who in so many ways have lost control over their lives, the power to access information they need on their own terms and at their own pace.</p> <p>It helps them double check things and navigate the complicated and confusing asylum system that is their best chance of achieving a life of safety and dignity in Europe.</p> <h3><img alt="Oxfam/ECHO distribute smartphones to refugees and migrants, in Epirus, Greece. Credit: Oxfam/ECHO" title="Oxfam/ECHO distribute smartphones to refugees and migrants, in Epirus, Greece. Credit: Oxfam/ECHO" height="405" width="300" style="float: right; width: 300px; height: 405px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/blog_greece-phones-vert-300_0.jpg" />Connecting people and keeping them safe</h3> <p>“It is also important for connecting ourselves to the internet like Facebook and Twitter, for knowing the news and knowing what is going on with the other camps and the news in general – social communication,” Syrian Female, 28 years old.</p> <p>A phone also increases people’s daily safety. It gives the simple security of being able to call for help or to google translate from Arabic to Greek when they need to communicate something to a local.</p> <p>It also means that when a mother is in hospital she can still call her husband and other children who are left in the camp. Or when an older son is shopping in town, he can be contacted in case there is an emergency in the camp.</p> <p>“Phones are important for communication with relatives and friends, and if there is any problem to be able to communicate with people responsible”, Syrian Male, 20 years old.</p> <p><strong>A phone also means people can stay connected</strong> to loved ones scattered around the world. Most people in Greece have family left behind in Syria or Turkey or Afghanistan, and their wellbeing is a constant source of concern and stress. The benefit of being able to keep in regular touch with family is never starker than when I wander through the WiFi zones in a camp and a 14-year-old boy who is traveling alone is talking joyfully to his mother thousands of miles away.</p> <p>“Because we are just single men, with the phones we are able to talk to our family members who are all back in Syria and it was only us that made it to flee the war”, Syrian Male, 52 years old.</p> <p>I often make jokes about how I can’t live without my phone, but for the people I work with in Greece, having a smartphone can be life changing.</p> <p><em>Oxfam’s program in Epirus is funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (<a href="http://ec.europa.eu/echo/" rel="nofollow">ECHO</a>)</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><strong>Support <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/refugee-and-migrant-crisis" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's humanitarian response to the migrant/refugee crisis</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Learn more about <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/refugee-and-migrant-crisis/greece" rel="nofollow">Oxfam’s humanitarian response in Greece</a></strong></p> <p>Follow / Contact us on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/OxfamInGreece/" rel="nofollow"><strong>Facebook</strong></a> and <strong><a href="https://twitter.com/OxfaminGreece" rel="nofollow">Twitter</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>How a smartphone connects people stranded in Greece to safety, information and family</h2></div> Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:52:36 +0000 Alexandra Pagliaro 72034 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-12-02-smart-phone-connects-people-stranded-greece#comments Stand As One with those forced to flee http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-06-20-stand-one-those-forced-flee <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>This entry posted by Renata Rendón, Advocacy &amp; Policy Lead, Oxfam Greece Mission, on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2016.</em></p> <p>More than 65 million people worldwide have been forced to flee violence, conflict and persecution. <a href="http://oxf.am/ZBsN" rel="nofollow"><strong>Call on your government</strong></a> to protect and welcome people searching for safety.</p> <h3>What’s happening?</h3> <p>The number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence or persecution is at its highest level since World War II. The <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>conflict in Syria</strong></a> has been a major factor in the rise, but people have also fled conflicts in South Sudan, Burundi, Iraq and Central African Republic.</p> <p>The responsibility for providing refugees with shelter, food and health care as well as jobs and education is falling disproportionately on poorer countries, which are often struggling to meet the needs of their own people.</p> <p>This all puts some of the most vulnerable people in the world in dangerous and frightening situations. Worldwide, more than 5,400 people lost their lives during 2015 making treacherous journeys to reach a safe haven while at least 2,776 people have had lost their lives Families are routinely separated, with parents often unable to find their children. Many have left possessions and documents behind, fleeing with just the clothes they were wearing. Some find themselves living in overcrowded shelters, where conditions can lead to infections and disease.</p> <p><img alt="Children in Zaatari camp, Jordan. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam" title="Children in Zaatari camp, Jordan. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/82677lpr-children-1240x680.jpg" /></p> <h3>How can the international community help fix this?</h3> <p>In 2015, the five wealthiest countries gave $1.9bn in aid to the UNHCR to help refugees. Such aid is vital as it provides refugees with essential shelter, food, water and other support.</p> <p>But providing aid cannot absolve rich countries from their moral and legal responsibilities to welcome more refugees. Aid should not be used by governments to put pressure on developing countries to host refugees and stop people from moving.</p> <p>World leaders must heed messages of solidarity and support, as they plan to meet in just under 100 days’ time at two important summits in New York. On 19 September, UN Member States will come together for the first<a href="http://www.un.org/pga/70/2016/03/23/united-nations-summit-on-refugees-and-migrants/" rel="nofollow"><strong> UN Summit for Large Movements on Refugees and Migrants</strong></a>. The following day, US President Barack Obama is inviting all world leaders to tackle the refugee crisis. World leaders must not miss these opportunities to help millions of people forced to flee.</p> <p><strong>Ahead of the summits, Oxfam is demanding that:</strong></p> <ul><li>All countries must uphold the fundamental human rights of all people on the move and uphold and implement the principles and standards of the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol</li> <li>Rich countries must welcome many more people seeking refuge and asylum</li> <li>All refugee-hosting countries must  provide a dignified future – including the right to work and education – to everyone trapped in long-term displacement</li> <li>Rich countries must give more help to the developing countries who host the vast majority of refugees and displaced people.</li> </ul><p><a href="http://oxf.am/ZBsN" rel="nofollow"><strong>Tell your government to #StandAsOne with the millions of people forced to flee.</strong></a></p> <h3>What’s Oxfam doing to help?</h3> <p>Oxfam is working in over 20 countries around the world, <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/refugee-and-migrant-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>helping people who have fled</strong></a> because of violence or conflict. This includes bringing safe water to people in bombarded areas in Syria, providing food in South Sudan, and water and sanitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Yemen. In <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/refugee-and-migrant-crisis/stranded-greece-long-refugee-road-nowhere" rel="nofollow"><strong>Greece</strong></a>, Italy, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, Oxfam is providing food and clean water and building much-needed toilets to prevent the spread of disease, and making sure people have the information they need to stay safe and obtain access to legal aid.</p> <h3>What can YOU do?</h3> <p>To save and protect lives, governments worldwide must act together and responsibly.</p> <p><a href="http://oxf.am/ZBsN" rel="nofollow"><strong>Sign the global petition</strong></a> calling on governments to guarantee safety, protection and dignity to people forced to flee. We’ll hand it to world leaders meeting at the twin summits in September.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Renata Rendón, Advocacy &amp; Policy Lead, Oxfam Greece Mission, on 20 June 2016.</em></p> <p><em>Photo top: Beatrice, 23 collects water from an Oxfam water pump in Nyarugusu refugee camp. Photo: Amy Christian/Oxfam, 22 March 2016</em></p> <p><em>Photo middle: Children in Zaatari camp, Jordan. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam</em></p> <p><img alt="We see people, not refugee. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam" title="We see people, not refugee. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam" height="683" width="1024" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/we-see-people-not-refugees-boat.jpg" /></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Stand As One with those forced to flee</h2></div> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 15:56:18 +0000 Guest Blogger 51133 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-06-20-stand-one-those-forced-flee#comments