Austria is one of the countries where refugees are seeking asylum (almost 90,000 in 2015). ADRA Austria mobilized and is supporting church members across the country in assisting refugees during the long integration process. At least 10 churches in the country have ongoing refugee projects.
One church is renting the empty pastor’s apartment to two refugees from Iran. Another church offers basic education to 25 children two days a week. Nearly every day, donated food from supermarkets is brought to refugee centers together with clothing and other items that may be needed (e.g. furniture or household items). Refugees themselves help at the church, which has a regular flea market for second hand clothing.
Social integration is very important. Church members are organizing social events, assisting families with finding apartments, completing the necessary paperwork, and furnishing apartments. ADRA is helping to support refugees attending German language courses, and some church members are themselves providing language classes for refugees.
Winter was a difficult season for refugees, particularly those who were still on the move. ADRA Bulgaria distributed winterization items such as blankets, shoes and warm clothes to help protect refugees from the cold and associated illnesses.
When the borders were still open and large numbers of refugees were passing through Croatia, ADRA Croatia was active in a refugee camp and a transit admission center. Staff and volunteers distributed essential items, including winter clothing and hygiene kits. They also assisted refugees by providing psychosocial support and charging stations for cell phones.
With the borders closed, ADRA Croatia is still working with around 300 refugees who remain in the country. Activities include awareness raising and sensitization of the local community to the needs and challenges faced by refugees, bringing refugee and local populations together through sporting activities, and refugee excursions. ADRA is also running a library for migrants.
ADRA Dunkerque, a local branch of ADRA France, have been active with refugees in France. They prepare about 400-500 meals on Sundays, and go to the Grande Synthe refugees camp and distribute it among the refugees. They have been supported by volunteers of British churches like Newbold, and also French churches, mainly from the Paris region.
Most refugees attempting to reach Europe from Turkey travelled by boat to the Greek islands. A treacherous journey, there were thousands of tragic deaths at sea. ADRA was one of the NGOs assisting refugees when they arrived on the islands.
When Europe began closing its borders in March 2016, around 50,000 refugees became stranded in camps spread throughout Greece. ADRA has established a presence in the country, focusing its efforts in the area around Katerini in northern Greece. ADRA is leading the humanitarian services in four refugee camps, operating various health, WASH, and supplementary food projects. ADRA is also providing psychosocial support and translation services.
“We want you to save us. We don’t want to stay here.”
ADRA Italy and the Italian Seventh-day Adventist Church are collaborating on a project for refugees from Ghana, who have lived in Italy for several years. This project helps the refugees find agricultural employment in a socially conscious capacity that contributes to Italian society and protects the environment. The project also offers refugees job training, Italian language classes and driving lessons.