A complex and catastrophic refugee crisis is unfolding across the Mediterranean, fuelled by ongoing conflict and instability in the Middle East and North Africa. Those that have fled war-torn Syria to other countries in the region alone number four million.

In their search for safety, some are forced to make difficult decisions to attempt to reach EU member states. With very few legal and safe routes overland, many thousands of refugees are embarking on perilous sea journeys. Often making the trip toward Europe on flimsy and crowded dinghies, they are risking – and losing – their lives in the attempt.

At least 2,000 people are thought to have died at sea so far this year. It is not known how many others may be planning the dangerous voyage. Increasingly, women and children are among those endangered in what has become the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

In many places, local services are straining to meet the needs of the vulnerable people arriving. For example, on the Greek island of Lesvos – the current focus of Islamic Relief’s emergency response to the crisis – refugees are sheltered in hastily established transit camps, run by local volunteers. Those that cannot be accommodated in the swelling camps sleep on the streets. All struggle to access basic services and lack even basic yet essential items such as blankets and soap.

As the crisis grows and deepens, Islamic Relief continues to support refugees in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and is also helping vulnerable people in European countries.

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At a glance:

  • The worst refugee crisis since World War II, according to the UN
  • Four million Syrian refugees are living in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – a figure that continues to rise
  • In August, an estimated 2,000 people attempted to reach Greece by sea
  • Turkish authorities report their coastguards have rescued more than 42,000 people from the sea so far this year
  • Most of those trying to reach safety in Europe are fleeing brutal conflict in Syria
  • At least 2,000 people are so far thought to have died at sea so far this year.

How Islamic Relief is helping

In addition to continuing to assist refugees in countries including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, Islamic Relief is providing emergency relief in European countries.

Islamic Relief aid workers have been deployed to Greece, where we will coordinate with other humanitarian actors on the island of Lesvos to determine how best to assist. Working closely with partners on the ground, we will provide refugees with essential items and cultural mediation services to help new arrivals to access the services and advice they need.

In Germany, we are providing refugees with coupons enabling them to choose items such as clothes, shoes and toys from our charity shops. In addition, refugees in Italy are receiving clothing, meals and translation services.

We continue to closely monitor the situation in numerous countries impacted by the crisis.

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