A historically Jewish organization and a Muslim group will work together to provide legal services to refugees in Greece.
HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, and Islamic Relief USA, the US arm of the humanitarian assistance and advocacy organization, have formed a joint initiative to help the thousands of refugees in the country.
More than 1 million refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries in crisis passed through Greece in 2015 and 2016. Some 60,000 refugees remain there. Last year, nearly 3,000 refugees arrived in Greece each month, according to HIAS.
The partnership, which will operate in Athens and on the island of Lesbos, will help refugees navigate the constantly changing asylum procedures, increasing limitations on movement and employment opportunities, lack of police protection, and inadequate medical and mental health services that are available to them. HIAS first launched a program for refugees in Lesbos in 2016 to offer direct, individual legal representation to refugees in Greece.
The two groups have been collaborating to advance refugee rights for several years. In June, Islamic Relief USA honored HIAS with its Courage Award. Upon accepting the award in Washington, D.C., HIAS President Mark Hetfield said, “All the Abrahamic faiths are united by the value of hospitality and welcoming the stranger as ourselves, for we were all once strangers in a strange land.”
On Wednesday, HIAS received a grant from the Genesis Prize Foundation and its 2017 laureate Anish Kapoor to advocate in support of immigrants and refugees to the United States.