At the instigation of Alain Deloche from La Chaîne de l’Espoir and Sinan Khaddaj from Waha, a large medical aid project in favour of migrants was initiated in Greece and the Balkans in October 2016. In order to support this initiative, other members of Synergy, including Claire Rieux and François Dupaquier, joined forces with these two NGOs.
From June and July 2015, an exceptionally large number of migrants risked the journey from the Balkans to Europe by entering Greece. We had noticed this problem some time earlier in Lebanon as part of an assessment mission. During interviews and focus groups carried out with refugees, they expressed, for the first time in the several years we had been engaging with them, their general will to reach Europe. A few weeks later, the great migration started. And yet, this situation was already there. Already in 2014, over 200,000 people had illegally entered Europe, accounting for a 375% increase in arrivals compared with 2013. In October 2015, a peak was reached with more than 200,000 arrivals on Greek islands and over 10,000 arrivals in mainland Greece on October 20th alone! In 2015, a total of more than a million people gained Europe.
Meeting with Synergy’s members allowed for the initiation of large-scale medical projects, a real cordon sanitaire going from the Greek islands, through the Balkans and up to Western Europe. These projects are still on-going and carried out by Waha, remaining a key medical player in the healthcare response to the migration crisis in Europe.