Snapshot of refugee numbers
Around 12,740 refugees arrived on Lesvos in 2017 which was approximately 44% of total arrivals in Greece. There were relatively few arrivals in the first half of the year, with numbers rising sharply from June onwards. Some people were transferred to the Mainland during the year, but at the end of the year there were still over 7,000 refugees here.
Starfish activities in refugee camps
Throughout 2017 Starfish continued to help refugees in the Moria Camp, the PIKPA camp run by Lesvos Solidarity, and the Stage Two Transit Camp at Skala Sykamnia. Starfish regularly sourced and donated items such as clothing, sheets and towels, toiletries and baby strollers, which make a real difference to the lives of refugees.
Highlights of our other activities include:
Starfish support for Unaccompanied Minors
Starfish continues to have a special interest in helping Unaccompanied Minors (young people under 18). Most of these young people live in Moria or in shelters in Mytilini run by the Greek organization Iliaktida. In 2017 we helped 50 unaccompanied minors to take part in IT training run by the Changemakers Lab, as well as supporting soccer training for them. Starfish regularly provides Iliaktida with mobile phones for unaccompanied minors, to enable them to stay in touch with their families back home.
A major innovation was the Starfish NeedsHub, launched in May 2017. This is an online platform that aims to improve the flow of refugee aid to where it is needed most on Lesvos and to improve communication, trust and collaboration between the many organizations working here to help refugees. NeedsHub enables NGOs working with refugees to list their needs. Donors can then see what is needed and offer support. Some donors have sourced and delivered items themselves, but most will give money with which Starfish can buy goods from local providers. Supporting local businesses in this way remains an important principle of Starfish.
Training and Capacity Building
Starfish continually seeks to improve its performance and networking abilities, and in 2017 our team members attended several training sessions and seminars. This included 80 hours of intensive capacity building training delivered by HIGGS (Higher Incubator Giving Growth and Sustainability).
In November, Starfish took part in the Amsterdam-Athens Capacity Building Program for Initiatives Supporting Refugees, organized by the Bodossaki Foundation and delivered by experts from the Dutch Council for Refugees. This three-day intensive training was a great opportunity, and Starfish was subsequently chosen to take part in a follow-up study trip in Amsterdam in February 2018.
Looking forward to 2018
Starfish is looking forward to meeting the inevitable challenges that 2018 will bring. We will continue to provide help wherever it is needed, both to refugees and local communities.
To all of you who have supported and continue to support our work, we offer our heartfelt thanks. The refugees stranded on our island are most grateful to you. You can check out current needs on NeedsHub. Please donate as generously you can to the work of Starfish Foundation by bank transfer or by PayPal.