For the past 12 months, tens of thousands of people migrating have been effectively “trapped” in Greece and the Balkans. While the number of new arrivals has substantially decreased, about 60 people per day continue to arrive in Greece.

MARCH 2016 – Idomeni informal camp, Greece.

Idomeni, Greece, 15 March 2016. Over 12,000 people, predominantly families, have been stranded by the border in Greece for over three weeks in appalling conditions. More than a week of heavy rain and cold weather is making the situation even more dire with children having to spend their days in soaking clothes and shoes without having access to warmth and proper sanitation. Syrian Nada (28), her husband Faisal (33) and their 7 children have now been travelling for over a month. Clutching her youngest child, one-year old Abbas, Nada explains that they had to leave their hometown of Deir ez-Zor when several of their family members were killed in air raids. What they hope for is to finally find safety in Germany.

Over 12,000 people, predominantly families, were stranded in appalling conditions at the Idomeni informal camp by the border in Greece for more than three weeks, when the Western Balkan route shut in February 2016. Families spent days in soaking clothes and shoes without access to warmth and proper sanitation. Five days after this photo was taken, thousands more found themselves suddenly stranded on Greece’s islands. (Mirva Helenius / Finnish Red Cross)

APRIL 2016 – Cherso migrant camp, Greece

Family in the rain. Cherso, Greece / 23.3.2016 / Maria Santto FRC

The Hellenic Army rushed to set up migrant camps around Greece to accommodate the thousands evacuated from Idomeni, and those living at informal sites near ports. Tents were erected, humanitarian organizations including Red Cross moved into provide critical services like health care and access to clean water. Few could have guessed that many of the people would still be living in these camps a year later. (Maria Santto / Finnish Red Cross)

MAY 2016 – Nea Kavala migrant camp, Greece

Northern Greece, 2-8 June 2016. Over 50,000 migrants are stranded in camps across Greece for an indefinet amount of time. The Hellenic Red Cross, supported by IFRC, is working for better living conditions in the camps, including health care, psychosocial support, adequate hygiene and saniation, and basic necessities. Northern Greece, 2-8 June 2016. Over 50,000 migrants are stranded in camps across Greece for an indefinet amount of time. The Hellenic Red Cross, supported by IFRC, is working for better living conditions in the camps, including health care, psychosocial support, adequate hygiene and saniation, and basic necessities. Northern Greece, 2-8 June 2016. Over 50,000 migrants are stranded in camps across Greece for an indefinet amount of time. The Hellenic Red Cross, supported by IFRC, is working for better living conditions in the camps, including health care, psychosocial support, adequate hygiene and saniation, and basic necessities. Posing here is the Red Cross medical team at the Nea Kavala camp. Austrian Red Cross/Markus Hechenberger

Children make up 37 per cent of the migrant and refugee population in Greece, and more than 4,000 kids are in Greece by themselves –without families or guardians. Many children had been out of school for years before reaching Greece. School is now available for children on the mainland aged between 6-15 years old. (Markus Hechenberger/ Austrian Red Cross)

JUNE 2016 – Softext/Kordelio migrant camp, Greece

Kordelio, Thessaloniki, Greece. 6 June 2016. Kordelio camp is one of the newest camps in Greece. It was recently set up by the Greek authorities to house people that were relocated from Idomeni. The camp currently hosts 1,200 Syrians and Iraqis, with 40% children. The Red Cross Red Cresecent has been there since the first day providing health care with a mobile unit and distributing necessary supplies to those living at the camp. Caroline Haga / IFRC

Softex/Kordelio is one of the ”warehouse” camps set up after the evacuation of Idomeni. The humanitarian situation in Greece has presented major challenges for all involved in the response, with few anticipating its complexity, longevity and scale at the outset. (Caroline Haga / IFRC)

JULY 2016 – Piraeus port informal camp, Greece

Athens, Greece, 8 March 2016. Thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees have been stranded at the port of Piraeus in Athens for several days due to the overcrowded centres in northern Greece. The Hellenic Red Cross provides daily humanitarian aid to those waiting, including food, water, hygiene kits and baby items. Staff and volunteers also man a mobile medical clinic, provide activities for children in the harbour and help people in tracing their lost family members. Caroline Haga/IFRC

In July, the informal camp site at Piraeus port, Athens, was evacuated and closed. The concrete port offered little in the way of shelter from the wind, rain or blazing sun. Nevertheless, it became a resting point for people arriving to the mainland from the islands. After borders in the north closed, and people were no longer able to leave the islands, hundreds of people who had made it to the mainland, stayed on at the informal camp, still hoping that they would find a way to continue into Europe. Red Cross, along with other humanitarian organizations, provided critical health care and other assistance at the site until it was closed. (Caroline Haga / IFRC)

AUGUST 2016 –Ritsona migrant camp, Greece

The Hellenic Red Cross, supported by the IFRC, Spanish Red Cross and other partner National Societies, is currently providing humanitarian aid in 11 locations across Greece. In addition to providing medical care and emergency supplies, addressing growing psychosocial support needs, reconnecting family members, improving hygiene and sanitation, and providing information will be prioritized.

Humanitarian organizations are supporting people to meet their immediate needs. But longer-term solutions are also critical. Many of the issues affecting the welfare of people fleeing violence, persecution and poverty are not unique to Greece – thousands of people are stranded elsewhere in Europe, trapped by border closures and other measures designed to stop the movement of people. Long-term solutions within and beyond Europe a that focus on assisting and protecting people escaping violence, persecution and poverty must be found. (Spanish Red Cross)

SEPTEMBER 2016—Nea Kavala migrant camp, Greece

Nea Kavala, Greece - Red Cross volunteers Khaled Al Khedur(L) and Amina Suliman(R) inside Nea Kavala refugee camp on the 15th of October 2016. Socrates Baltagiannis/ IFRC

Even though the number of people crossing the Aegean Sea and arriving in Greece has dropped dramatically, the number of people stranded in Greece has grown over the past 12 months from 47,500 to 62,000.

Khaled and Amina were two out of thousands stranded in Greece with little control or certainty over their future. Since this photo was taken, Amina has left Greece under the relocation programme. At the time, they both kept themselves busy by volunteering with the Hellenic Red Cross’s hygiene promotion team, raising awareness about health and waste management issues in Nea Kavala camp where they lived. (Socrates Baltagiannis/IFRC)

OCTOBER 2016 –Skaramagas migrant camp

In collaboration with other humanitarian actors, the Red Cross provided emergency winter items including thermal blankets, sleeping bags, raincoats, leggings, winter socks, warm hats, gloves and scarfs to migrants and refugees at 7 different camps on mainland Greece. As the wetter and colder months begin to set in, the Red Cross is increasingly concerned about the welfare of refugees and migrants living in camps. Distributing winter clothing and bed linen is one mechanism to support people who continue to be housed in substandard conditions. As part of its _15 million assistance provided to the Red Cross through the Emergency Support Instrument, the European Commission continues to help refugees in Greece by supporting the Red Cross to deliver these critical items. This will ensure that people living in camps stay warm and dry throughout the winter.

In the lead up to winter, Red Cross volunteers spent early mornings in camps preparing to distribute warm bedding and winter clothes. At Skaramagas camp, an old shipping yard on the harbor in western Athens. People living at Skaramagas spent the winter housed in self-contained heated units. But elsewhere, thousands of people spent the winter in tents. Red Cross provided insulation for people living in tents, as well as blankets, clothing, and heaters. (Anita Dullard/IFRC)

NOVEMBER 2016 — Softext/Kordelio migrant camp, Greece

Red Cross volunteers in Kordelio (Softex) refugee camp

Red Cross teams working in Greece witness daily the impact that the uncertainty and conditions are having on the physical and mental health of migrants – people are exhausted, desperate and frustrated. Many have faced violence and trauma in the past. Psychosocial support for children and adults is a critical service provided in camps by specifically trained Red Cross personnel.

But this critical service only addresses the immediate distress. People need access to information, improved living conditions and greater clarity about their future. (Socrates Baltagiannis/IFRC)

DECEMBER 2016 – Nea Kavala migrant camp, Greece

CTP Nea Kavala-1

Many people who have fled war, persecution and poverty have to rely on humanitarian aid for months, if not years. They eat what is given to them, wear clothing that is donated and live in shelter that is provided. Not being able to make decisions for yourself and your family can erode dignity over time. In December, the Red Cross began to provide cash assistance to people living in camps, giving people choice and agency. (Anita Dullard / IFRC)

JANUARY 2017 –Ritsona migrant camp, Greece



After spending a sweltering summer in tents in the remote Ritsona migrant camp, migrants and refugees were moved into self-contained units with heating just ahead of the winter snow. Tents and containers are not appropriate housing in the long-term, in particular during extremes of weather. IFRC and Hellenic Red Cross have worked with the authorities to improve conditions in camps. But these are only interim solutions – safe, healthy, durable and adequate shelter options need to be found. (Anita Dullard / IFRC)

FEBRUARY 2017 – Moira detention facility, Lesvos, Greece


Concerns over conditions and protection in Greece point to a larger issue of an overburdened global migration system. IFRC and National Societies call on States to ensure that the safety and dignity of people migrating is at the heart of all migration policies and approaches. (Eleonora Pouwels/Danish Red Cross)