Refugee and migrant crisis

European border closures and restrictions have dramatically worsened the situation for these vulnerable people and created a humanitarian crisis. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam
European border closures and restrictions have dramatically worsened the situation for these vulnerable people and created a humanitarian crisis. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

Millions of people are being forced from their homes, risking everything to escape conflict, disaster, poverty or hunger. From those fleeing the war in Syria or climate change-induced droughts, to those stranded in inadequate conditions in Europe, you can help us give life-saving support to refugees in the countries where they need it most.

A global crisis

More than 65 million people around the world are now officially displaced from their homes by conflict, violence and persecution – the highest figure recorded by the United Nations since the Second World War.

In 2017, more than 170,000 migrants, including refugees, arrived in Europe by sea. Close to 120,000 of them crossed the Central Mediterranean, the migrant route with most deaths recorded in the world, and nearly 2,900 migrants recorded killed or missing on that route in the same year. Most of them traveled on smugglers’ boats departing from Libya, Tunisia or Egypt, risking their lives in search of safety in Italy and beyond.

However, the vast majority of people are displaced within their country of origin, or remain close to it. In Nigeria, the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram has forced 1.8 million people to flee their homes and search for safety in other parts of the country. Lebanon, with a population of 4.5 million people, is struggling to host 1.2 million Syrian refugees. A growing number of them are living in difficult conditions in camps or amongst host communities on the borders of both Turkey and Jordan.

Idomeni refugee camp, in Greece.Idomeni refugee camp, Greece, March 2016. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

Unsafe conditions for people arriving

Many of the migrants and refugees reaching Europe face daily uncertainty and practical challenges, from the lack of basic information to the increasing risk posed by human trafficking and migrant smuggling. 

European border closures and restrictions as well as the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal have dramatically worsened the situation for these vulnerable people and created a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of them have been left stranded in Greece, many of them in abysmal conditions in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands and with no access to family members who reside in other countries; others are stuck in Macedonia and Serbia, or pushed back from one country to the other.

Having made a perilous journey across the Mediterranean, those who arrive in Italy and Greece hoped to find sanctuary. Instead, they find themselves living in often overcrowded sites that lack food and basic services such as medical care, water and sanitation.

In the Balkans countries many women, men and children are being mistreated by law enforcement officials who use violence and intimidation to illegally push them back and deny them access to asylum procedures. Refugees and other migrants who have crossed from Libya tell of rape, torture and slave labor as daily realities that people crossing the North-African country face.

Family hygiene kits being distributed in Aleppo, Syria.Family hygiene kits being distributed in Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Humam Banna/Oxfam.

Oxfam's response

We have helped 288,000 people since the start of our operations in Greece, Serbia, Macedonia and Italy. Assistance delivered ranges from basic essentials such as food, clothing and hygiene kits, to legal counselling and psychological support.

Protecting new arrivals in Serbia and Macedonia

We are working closely with local organizations to ensure they can provide adequate assistance and protection to new arrivals. We are also assisting vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers currently living inside and outside designated accommodation sites in Serbia. We are distributing food, hygiene kits, clothing and other essential items as well as installing water and sanitation facilities and providing psychological support and legal counseling.

Providing emergency, legal and psychological support in Italy

On the mainland and in Sicily, we are providing food, clothes, shoes, and personal hygiene kits as well as longer term psychological and legal support to new arrivals. We are also helping asylum seekers to find accommodation, learn Italian, and providing them with cash to meet their basic needs. We are also hosting asylum seekers who arrived on humanitarian visas directly from Lebanon, as part of a unique programme in coordination with the Italian government.

Helping refugees maintain their dignity in Greece

We started our operations in Lesvos in October 2015, as the humanitarian situation for people arriving irregularly from Turkey rapidly worsened, by providing clean water, sanitation, food and non-food items. We are currently working with partners on Lesvos island to provide free legal assistance to asylum seekers, and we have established a community based protection approach with women and men, enabling information and increased access to services through training a network of focal points in the community. Read more about our response in Greece.

Life-saving emergency support for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan

We are helping more than 2 million people across the region with life-saving clean water, sanitation, and vital support for families who have lost everything.

We are working in Lebanon and Jordan to bring Syrian refugees clean drinking water,cash and relief supplies, such as blankets, stoves and vouchers for hygiene supplies. We are helping families get the information they need about their legal and human rights and connecting them to medical, legal and support services.

We are also providing clean water to Syrians inside Syria through the rehabilitation of infrastructure, water trucking and by repairing wells.