Conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa have dramatically increased the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe. As the Syrian conflict enters its fifth year, a combination of desperation and hope is leading growing numbers of Syrians to attempt an extremely perilous journey toward Europe.
Harrowing stories have emerged of death, starvation and abuse at the hands of people smugglers. While Italy has received a slightly larger number of sea arrivals, Greece is the most seriously affected so far. The situation of the new arrivals is dire: Capacity on the Greek islands—Lesvos, Chios, Kos and Rhodes—is overstretched.
Most people continue onward to Northern and Western Europe, including through the Balkan countries of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia, to seek asylum. People stay where they can—occupying public parks, forests and abandoned factories and other properties. Many countries in southern Europe are unprepared to meet the growing needs.
Caritas is providing vital food, living items and dignified shelter so refugee and migrant families—especially women, children and the elderly—can meet their most basic human needs. Church partners also provide critical information, translation and language services, as well as legal resources so refugees and migrant families know their rights and options, and are able to make informed decisions.
Pope Francis has called for every parish in Europe to welcome one family. Caritas Internationalis is working with European governments and Catholic communities to welcome refugees while also working for peace in their homelands.
Caritas Updates on Refugee Crisis