Since 2014, the number of refugees entering Greece from the Middle East has increased dramatically, with Europe seeing the biggest refugee crisis in modern history. In keeping with the demography of the Middle East, the vast majority are Muslim. There is a small minority (around 2-4%) who are not.
Christian refugees have fled an attempted genocide in areas controlled by ISIS, and others have exercised the freedom to change their religion, promised by the Human Rights Convention, but in doing so have become targeted as apostates.
Unfortunately, camps and facilities trying to accommodate the flood of people have become microcosms of the Middle East. As a result, many Christians (around 88%) are targeted in the camps and other refugee accommodation because of their faith.
The International Christian Consulate receives referrals of such cases on a weekly basis.
At the beginning of our work in Greece, we planned to set up a residential facility specifically for the Christian minority to be housed in a safe environment and with access to much needed support. This plan changed into a better solution which is now working well.
The organisation has two main projects in Athens:
Once in the program, they are assisted with obtaining relevant registrations, training and necessary documentation to begin living independently. During their stay, ICC also registers them for cash assistance, provided by UNHCR through local partners. ICC's goal is to help them move from dependency on NGOs and the Greek government, to standing on their own feet once again.
Those who take this opportunity seriously find hope, and many of them manage to secure full-time employment and move into their own accommodation.
Following referral and an in-depth screening interview, Christian refugees who are at risk of harm in other refugee accommodation are placed in one of our 11 safe houses in and around Athens.
They are provided with everything they need to live with dignity, safety and normality again. They stay in the safe house for a few months, during which the ICC provides integration support and encourages them to move towards independence and a new life in Greece.
The House of Faith centre is a vital hub and place of refuge for Christian refugees and asylum seekers in Athens, as well as a central point of support for those in the ICC Safe House Program.
Opened in August 2017, the centre provides a sense of community as well as much needed integration support for those who arrive seeking help. English and Greek classes are held several times a week, along with discipleship and bible classes, all of which are well attended.
Refugees can come and ask advice, search for jobs using the centre's computers, and spend some quiet time in the library reading their bibles and learning in peace, without fear of retribution. There is also a medical room which in partnership with DocMobile provides basic medical care and referrals to specialists when needed.
The centre needs your support. If you are able to make a regular donation, or a one-off gift, please click on the button below:
Many of our beneficiaries have experienced significant traumas, and would benefit from getting out of the city to experience peaceful and beautiful surroundings. Greece is a very beautiful country but few of the most traumatised ever get the opportunity to leave the hectic and chaotic city where stress levels increase.
ICC is in the early stages of preparing a small farming retreat facility, which will provide the opportunity for beneficiaries to visit and spend time in nature, getting involved in therapeutic activities working with animals and plants, whilst having the mental space they need to process what's happened to them.
If you would like to make a donation specifically towards this work, you can do so on our crowdfunding page for this project.