Staff at a refugee camp near Serres, northern Greece held a birthday surprise for a 7-year-old Ukrainian refugee over the weekend.
The Greek Ministry of Migration posted the photo of the young refugee blowing out seven candles on her birthday with a message saying: “Even in the darkest of times, there’s light! A lovely surprise for the young girl from Ukraine, who celebrated her seven years in the refugee camp of Serres.”
More than 5,000 Ukrainian refugees now in Greece
More than 5,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled to Greece since Russia invaded the country in late February. Among them, there are more than 1,500 minors. A large number of the refugees are naturally women and children since men aged 18 to 60 are not permitted to leave Ukraine.
At least 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations, which calls the movement of people Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.
More than half of them are now in Poland, but tens of thousands are also staying in Moldova and Bulgaria, which have some of the fastest shrinking native populations.
“Greece is ready to receive Ukrainians and ethnic Greeks coming to our country as war refugees… as a rule, Ukrainians usually go where they have relatives or acquaintances,” Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told Open TV last week.
Greece is issuing temporary residence permits to Ukrainian refugees, who will be able to stay and work in the country for one year.
Ukrainians who do not have any travel documents and are entering Greece via the Promachonas border station in northern Greece can be provided with a document that will allow them to receive protection status, a move made in collaboration with the Ukrainian Embassy in Greece.
Greece offers jobs in the tourism sector
Greece also decided to show its solidarity with Ukrainian refugees who are streaming out of their country by opening up 50,000 jobs in the tourism sector to Greek expatriates and refugees.
Greek Minister of Tourism Vassilis Kikilias, in a press release issued recently, announced that there were over 50,000 job openings that were not covered by the domestic market last year.
“Could these people with dignity, with European contracts and collective labor contracts be absorbed and help in this sector?” he asked, inferring that these positions could be filled by Ukrainian refugees and Greek expats.
Greek Orthodox Church offers hospitality to Ukrainian refugees
The Holy Synod sent an encyclical to all the Metropolises of the Church of Greece, to inform the body of their ability to offer hospitality to Ukrainian refugees in ecclesiastical sites and institutions (including camps, boarding schools, and monasteries) or in vacant apartments and houses owned by ecclesiastical legal entities.
Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece has offered the hostels of the civil non-profit company called “Coexistence” owned by the Church of Greece, while all the structures of the Archdiocese of Athens for hosting refugees from Ukraine, if necessary, were made available to the state through the Apostoli organization.