The Greek economic crisis and the European refugee crisis are too complex and deeply tangled for me to fully understand, much less adequately describe here.  However, I would like to offer the following summary to establish a context for my experiences and observations (italics mine):


“The Greek government-debt crisis (also known as the Greek Depression) is the sovereign debt crisis faced by Greece in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007–08. Widely known in the country as The Crisis (Greek: Η Κρίση), it reached the populace as a series of sudden reforms and austerity measures that led to impoverishment and loss of income and property, as well as a small-scale humanitarian crisis.  In all, the Greek economy suffered the longest recession of any advanced capitalist economy to date, overtaking the US Great Depression. As a result, the Greek political system has been upended, social exclusion increased, and hundreds of thousands of well-educated Greeks have left the country.”(1)


By the end of 2015, 816,752 migrants/refugees had arrived on the shores of Greece--the ones that survived the journey in the fragile, inflatable rafts of human traffickers.(2)  Most of these refugees are detained in camps on the islands of Chios, Lesvos, and Samos, awaiting a decision on their asylum status.  By the end of 2016 more than one in three Greeks was living in poverty.(3)

On 20 March 2016, a deal between the EU and Turkey deal to tackle the migrant crisis formally came into effect, leading to increasing backlogs of migrants detained in Greece.  Greek residents on the islands at first opened their their homes, closets, and kitchens to the arrivals.  Years later, crisis-fatigue and ongoing economic struggle have led to rising resentment and outright rejection of the refugees, who are trapped on the islands in horrific living conditions until their applications are processed, and then transferred to other camps on the mainland.

© 2019 by Sarah Cornette

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