Lesbos, Greece, April 26, 2016 — Today Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah visited International Rescue Committee (IRC) programs in Kara Tepe, a refugee site hosting over 950 people on the Greek island of Lesbos. She met with two Syrian families, and visited IRC facilities including a hygiene kiosk, an information desk and shower and toilet blocks.
Travelling in her capacity as an International Rescue Committee advocate, Her Majesty said:
“Refugees are not numbers, they are human beings like you and me. Except they have seen unimaginable horror, experienced unthinkable hardship and risked their lives to get here.
“This crisis is about people, not borders and barriers. It is about human dignity, not deals.
“The Greek government and people have, despite six years of economic hardship, shown remarkable empathy and kindness towards refugees. Much like how Jordanians have opened their hearts and homes to our Syrian neighbors.
“But this crisis is much greater than any one country or any one region’s capacity to cope. This is a crisis of exceptional scale and it necessitates an exceptional response.”
Accompanying Her Majesty on the visit, IRC Country Director Mr. Panos Navrozidis, said:
“Her Majesty Queen Rania recognizes the pressing needs but also the real potential of refugees who have been forced to flee war. For refugees, Her Majesty Queen Rania’s visit today reassures them that they are not alone. There are many people across the world who care deeply for their plight and are working to ensure a better, safer future for them and for their families.
“For refugees now stranded in Greece every effort must be made to process their relocation or asylum claims quickly and thoroughly. Refugees in Greece who have been separated from parents, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters elsewhere in Europe must be reunited with their families urgently. The Kingdom of Jordan estimates that over one million Syrians now are living in limbo there. Her Majesty’s visit is also a reminder of the importance of resettlement from the Syria region as a critical option in addressing this crisis.”
Speaking to Her Majesty, Marwa – a Syrian mother travelling alone with three of her children - said that all of them are longing for an end to the conflict in Syria so they can go home. In the meantime though they want to be safe and with their families.
Marwa’s husband is in Germany and is not well. She says that the doctors have told her she should get to him soon.
Kara Tepe, a municipality managed site close to Mytilene, Lesbos’ capital, now hosts over 950 refugees. At least 600 of these refugees are vulnerable cases who arrived after the EU-Turkey deal went into effect on March 20 and have been transferred from the closed facility at Moria. The IRC has played a critical role in the development of Kara Tepe.
At Kara Tepe, the IRC has installed showers, latrines, water access and laundry facilities as well as robust lighting – something that is crucial to ensure the safety of all when the sun goes down, but particularly for women and girls who are amongst the most vulnerable in an emergency.
The IRC’s protection team works closely with refugees at Kara Tepe, to ensure that people are safe physically, that their mental health needs are supported, and that they have access to specialist services such as legal advice on their asylum and relocation claims.
In addition, the IRC is responsible for the surfacing and drainage at Kara Tepe, including wheelchair access to refugee housing units for the disabled.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.