For Greece, War in Syria is Not Winding Down
Three young adults who arrived in Greece from the war-wracked city of Afrin, Syria pointed to their only belongings, which were stuffed into two plastic bags and a backpack.
“We only have this,” said one young man, brother of the other man who had fled with his wife, all Muslims. “We arrived in Greece yesterday and in Athens today. We left Afrin two weeks ago and walked straight to the Greece border. We couldn’t stop in Turkey. The Turkish soldiers were shooting at us. We walked through the mountains, and on the way we had to throw away many of our clothes, as we couldn’t run.”
Thousands of civilians fled Afrin after Turkish troops attacked it from January to March, on the purported rationale that the predominantly Kurdish city was linked with Turkey’s rebel Kurdish insurgency.
When the husband-and-wife team directing the native ministry in Athens asked the exhausted refugees about their families, the young couple only bowed their heads, unknowing and utterly helpless. They had left relatives to unknown fates.
“ISIS was coming and just killing people,” the refugee said. “Turkish soldiers were everywhere; our houses are destroyed.”
At last the brother of the husband said, “We do not know. ISIS was coming and just killing people. Turkish soldiers were everywhere; our houses are destroyed.”
The ministry directors told them their rights in Greece and how to apply for asylum. Then the directors were asked the hard question they hear every day: “Where shall we sleep?” The hard answer was that the new arrivals could not find shelter until they applied for asylum, and even then there could be a months-long wait.
“It is so easy to see the trauma on their faces,” one director said. “We invited them to stay and relax at our facilities and have some tea and biscuits. They joyfully accepted. Another friend, a refugee herself who recently accepted Christ and has been baptized, came to take them to the place for squatters where she has been staying for more than a month now.”
Thousands of such refugees are continuing to stream into Greece, many of them after literally running through Turkey. The native ministry provides food, funds for shelter and points them toward legal assistance, but recently needs outstripped supplies.
“The food program we run had to be put on hold for a couple months because we couldn’t meet the continuously increasing need, around 2,200 food bags per month, and now we have the newcomers from Afrin,” the co-director said.
The native missionaries also visit a tent camp about an hour from Athens, where they have begun a secret Bible study.
“We make trips to the sea to baptize people, visit houses and pray for people,” the director said. “And all this is working among Muslims. It is an incredible joy to see how our Lord Jesus is working among these people.”
Refugees are finding solace and salvation from native missionaries throughout Greece. Please consider a gift to help Christian Aid Mission supply native workers with the resources to meet growing needs.