In the month of March, WAVE distributed 2,017 hot meals, and 210 basic hygiene packs. We welcomed 67 new arrivals who came from Turkey, were pushed back or released from detention camps, washed 51 loads of laundry and provided 36 showers.
As the weather improves in Northern Greece, we have seen a corresponding rise in our numbers with transit routes becoming less dangerous and people beginning to move again. This, along with the end of the outdoor mask mandate, has brought a nice atmosphere to our distributions with people sitting around and enjoying the sun, or even playing football together. A great donation of hygiene items like soap, shampoo and deodorant came in from Grenzenlose Waerme this month which will be very much appreciated as the city heats up. Thanks to a wonderfully generous donation from Christian Refugee Relief (CRR) of 500kg of potatoes we have been able to serve spiced fries as a side dish several days a week. This inspired our volunteers to come up with other new side dishes like bulgur ‘meatballs’, cabbage and potato samosas and freshly made chappati. This has been perfect practice for Ramadan, which starts in April, as we will be creating lots of special sides, extras and deserts to help the community feel more at home during this special season. In order to help us with this, we launched a fundraiser to make up for the extra funds we will spend on ingredients like dates, milk, meat, new spices, nuts, shredded coconut and much more. Thanks to everybody who donated we reached our goal a few days ago, but the more we raise the more we can provide so the page is still open and can be found here.
Unfortunately this month saw increased oppression of our population from the Greek state. On 16 March the police began what’s known as ‘broom operations’, a long-standing tactic of raiding well-known areas where people-on-the-move congregate and sending them to MPRICs (Multi-Purpose Reception and Identification Centres) and PRDCs (Pre-Removal Detention Centres) to further the Greek state’s migration mandate of containment and control. This began in Athens with 530 undocumented individuals detained on the first day, and quickly the operations spread to other areas of Greece including Thessaloniki. Due to the fear of police brutality, violent pushbacks and lengthy arbitrary detention people have been worried about even attending our distributions and potentially being targeted.
Nevertheless, we are doing all we can to keep providing a high quality service and meet all the basic needs of every person who comes to us for help. We look forward to this special month of Ramadan and all the nice things we can provide to help people feel more at home during a time they would usually spend surrounded by their families. Thanks to all of you and your ongoing, generous donations.