Generation 2.0 for Rights, equality, and Diversity (Courtesy of website)
When people refer to the mass refugee flows from Syria and most recently from Afghanistan as a “migrant crisis,” it only preserves the distorted image most people in Europe and the rest of the world have about these people.
People who run away from a country torn apart by a civil war are not migrants. People who risk their lives and the lives of their children to reach Europe and other continents are not migrants. People who leave their home country because there is only death are not migrants. Those people are refugees, fleeing because of a “well-founded fear” of persecution and should be seen and treated as such. Words matter, and in this case they matter even more.
In the past few months, thousands of refugees have arrived in Greece through our islands and it is the first time that Greece has dealt with such large inflows of helpless people. And not just any people—we see the most vulnerable ones. Babies, children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled—people who need extra care, people who would never leave their country unless there was no other way to save their lives.
In Greece, due to the lack of official infrastructures or policies, refugees are mainly taken care of by individuals, volunteers, NGOs and local communities, giving whatever they can to those living in our parks and on our streets. Everyday people, like you and me, offer their own money and personal time to help the “other.” The “other,” who according to Greek officials are “irregular migrants,” are just regular people desperate for our help.
The goal of these refugees is to reach a place where they can live in peace, raise their children, study, and work just as they did back home. They don’t want to stay in Greece, since Greece unfortunately cannot offer them anything. Greece is just one stop among the many until they reach their final destination.
Our grandparents were refugees, our parents were migrants, and we Greeks, more than any other people in Europe, should feel for their pain and support them as much as we can. Most people in Greece have unfortunately forgotten our history. Luckily enough, some of us haven’t.
Andromachi Papioannou, PhD. is a program director of Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality, and Diversity, a youth organization based in Athens, Greece that represents a new generation of Greek citizens who help refugees and migrants become equal citizens in Greece and works to combat racism, xenophobia, and discrimination. For more information, visit their pages: