Greece (MNN) — Greece called out Europe’s leaders for their poor handling of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
In the wake of two shipwrecks Friday that cost more than two dozen people their lives, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he was ashamed by Europe’s inability to deal with the drama. He lashed out at leaders for their stance and lack of action to curb the death toll of refugees trying to cross to Europe via Greece.
Tsipras was caustic about Europe’s emotional reaction to pictures of the drowned Syrian toddler, while at the same time scorning the thousands of surviving children in their own streets. It’s a problem that’s been building for years, says Tasos Ioannidis with AMG International. “What is also happening in Europe is that a lot of the European countries have been overwhelmed by the number of people that are reaching them. Some of them have closed their borders. Some of them are refusing to take any more refugees. A lot of them want the refugees to stay in Greece for as long as possible.”
Ioannidis says Greece has had more time to put a human face to the thousands streaming through, but even they were caught off guard by the recent deluge. “Just last week there were in excess of 60,000 people in one week that came to Greece. What they are looking to do is go through Greece and then continue to the northern European countries where they are looking to escape war or economic suffering. They are seeking a place where they can earn a living for their families.”
An emergency mini-summit on the migrant crisis was held in Brussels 25 October. Greece rejected three proposals by European partners before coming to an agreement. In rejecting the first few plans the European Union attempted to pass, Ioannidis explains, “They [the Greek government] don’t want to keep the refugees long-term. And another is a fear of the people’s reaction because the Greek people have also been overwhelmed by the number of refugees.”
Tsipras praised the people in Greek islands who were doing their best to show compassion. Ioannidis agrees that ”there is a desire to help, but at the same time, they are afraid of having to care for them long-term. It’s a complicated situation with mixed feelings on the part of the Greek people.” That said, the country will accommodate 50,000 asylum seekers. “In a compromise, they agreed that they would accommodate 30,000 of the refugees in different areas in the country–some of them in the islands, some of them in the mainland, then the remaining 20,000 would be given subsidized housing.”
However, that doesn’t take into account the large groups that arrive unexpectedly. Ioannidis says, “I’m not exactly sure how this agreement will play out because just last week, there were more than 60,000 people that flowed through Greece. They are not looking to stay in Greece. They are looking to move on. The agreement is very unclear.”
With Europe so reluctant to step up to the plate, the responsibility is falling to Greece. Ioannidis says, “The Church has mobilized all its resources and has been doing a good job of helping to the extent that it is able.” He adds that “there is a group of volunteers that has been trained, and they will regularly go to the entry point and to the exit point from Greece to provide basic supplies for the refugees who are traveling, food for families, basic medical stuff that may be needed.”
$100 will help provide basic food and water for twenty people for two days. AMG International is sharing the love of Christ by providing food and water to refugees fleeing from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Opportunities to share the Gospel are plentiful, and AMG ministries of Greece are on the ground and face-to-face sharing the compassion of Christ in deed and with the Word of God.
Because believers are the ones who are reaching out and seeing the human faces behind the crisis, Ioannidis says, “I will trust that God will use that in the long-term to touch their lives. Our hope is that eventually some of them will come to know Him as Savior.”
Your gift of any amount will help with this effort. As you consider a physical response, Ioannidis asks you to consider a spiritual one, not only for the obvious needs, but also for the teams that are on the front lines. “We need to be praying for strength for all of the individuals who are volunteering in this effort. It is a very stressful situation. We can be praying for their protection because there are times when the number of refugees is overwhelming and there can be unrest among the groups that are traveling.”