Last week, CONCORD Europe director Seamus Jeffreson held meetings to discuss migration and refugees with a number of key figures from the Greek NGO and political world (1). Following his trip, Mr.Jeffreson reflected that “it was notable to see Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) very visible in providing essential social services to vulnerable communities in Athens.”
Following these meetings, two main objectives were identified going forward. Firstly, informing and engaging the population on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is deemed critical. This is in order to enable people to see the framework as something relevant to them and their struggles, and the issues they are most concerned with.
It was a great inspiration to see NGO professionals volunteers working in challenging circumstances with the refugees to provide meals and shelter women, men and children seeking a safer life in Europe.
Futhermore, CONCORD Europe advocates for a strong element of global citizenship in the education curricula – at EU level and with national ministries.
“Demonstrating how civil society organisations can help translate public solidarity and generosity into vital support for people fleeing conflict is – I think – a key part of what our sector should be all about,” says Mr.Jeffreson.
A second key point was that “national governments are making varied progress in developing plans to communicate, implement, monitor progress and engage citizens on Agenda 2030.” According to the CONCORD Europe director, “It is not yet clear the extent to which authorities dealing with ‘domestic’ policies feel implicated by the framework. How SDGs are reflected in national and local plans and who in government takes overall responsibility for the implementation of Agenda 2030 will be the things to watch for.”
With regards to the ongoing refugee crisis, CONCORD Europe saw that currently in Greece “NGOs with expertise and experiences providing humanitarian and development assistance overseas are increasingly working at home.” At the moment, medical NGOs are working with the municipality of Athens to provide medical and social services, despite a political environment that has been limited in explicitly encouraging collaboration with the wider sector of NGOs.
In the Port of Piraeus, small CSOs and volunteers are working hard to organise assistance to refugees coming from the Greek Islands. This is in the context of the deep concern about the human rights implications of the EU – Turkey deal on migration. According to Mr.Jeffreson “it was a great inspiration to see NGO professionals volunteers working in challenging circumstances with the refugees to provide meals and shelter women, men and children seeking a safer life in Europe.”
To read Mr.Jeffreson’s full report on Greece, click here
Photo Credits: Getty Images
These included Marina Sarli (Fair Trade Hellas), Glykeria Arapi (Action Aid Hellas) Director and president of the Greek NGO platform, as well as with the Greek Ministry of education (global citizenship education); (deputy) Vice Mayor of Athens: Maria Strategaki, (SDGs, refugees, gender), Ministry of foreign affairs (SDGs), Hellenic Platform members (CONCORD engagement, refugees)