People pick up leaflets during an event marking the World Refugee Day in Athens, Greece, on June 20, 2019. At the frontline of the European refugee-migrant crisis that started four years ago, Greece marked the World Refugee Day on Thursday with a call for solidarity and peaceful coexistence. (Xinhua/Lefteris Partsalis)
ATHENS, June 20 (Xinhua) -- At the frontline of the European refugee-migrant crisis that started four years ago, Greece marked the World Refugee Day on Thursday with a call for solidarity and peaceful coexistence.
The 2019 theme is "Step with Refugees: Take a Step on World Refugee Day", with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) encouraging people to count the steps they walk, run, or dance to cover the distance that refugees are forced to walk every year in order to reach safety.
"Every year on the 20th of June we mark the resilience, the courage of those who have been forced from their homes because of war, conflict, persecution. Every single day more than 30,000 people are displaced from their homes. That means that every 2 seconds somebody is becoming a refugee," Boris Cheshirkov, UNHCR's spokesperson in Greece told Xinhua during an event at Kypseli Municipal Market of Athens.
During the event under the theme "We Create Together -- We Live Together" there was a screening of short films by and about refugees, work-shops for children, photo exhibition and African music and dancing.
Greek chefs and refugee cooks teamed up to serve their favourite dishes and fixed menus.
"I transfer things from my country to other countries. We mix Greek and Arabic cuisine and that makes me happy," Barshank Haj Younes, a chef from Syria, who has lived three years in Greece,told Xinhua.
More than one million refugees and immigrants have reached Greece and travelled to central and northern Europe from the beginning of 2015 until the winter of 2016 when the Balkan route closed.
Over 70,000 remain stranded in the country, according to the latest official statistics released from the Migration Policy ministry earlier this week.
"Greece obviously is no longer facing the thousands of people that were coming every single day in 2015-2016, but they are still coming and Greece is already hosting around 80,000 people. The majority of them are families from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq. Certainly there is a refugee problem, this is exactly what we see, Greece is becoming a destination country, there is not the transition movements we saw three or five years ago," Cheshirkov said.
"And now the question is what will happen with the people that are here, we see record numbers of people who seek refugee status in the country, that means that they will have to start working, studying the language and integrate into society," he added.
Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in addressing the refugee issue along the state in recent years.
One of the most active is METAdrasi (means post-action in Greek) which was founded in 2009 with the aim to cover long-standing systemic gaps through innovative interventions to restore the dignity of those in need.
People of METAdrasi believe that migration leads to development and are determined to uphold and protect human rights of the most vulnerable, Eleana and Efthymis, who work in the Program & Development Department of the NGO told Xinhua.
Until today with the help of the organization, 1.4 million interpreting sessions have been conducted, 66,070 people have received legal support, 1,180 victims of torture have been certified and 11,000 unaccompanied children have been accompanied to appropriate accommodation facilities throughout Greece.