To date there are over 60,000 migrants stranded in Greece as bordering EU countries have closed their borders and in efforts to help provide shelter for asylum seekers, the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has initiated a program in which it provides refugees with accommodation either in apartments, hotels or with host families in Greece.
Hotelier Andreas Vasileiou is the head of a family run seaside hotel on the island of Evia and his business, Hotel Rovies is now the home of 88 asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and other countries. Over half of the hotel’s newest residents are children.
For Vasileiou, it all came down to whether or not you will remain feeling helpless or get involved in helping the refugees flooding both the mainland and islands of Greece. He decided to act; not only did he open his hotel to the refugees, he also networked his community and found that his staff and neighbors also could lend to a healthy and happy environment for the asylum seekers who had traversed the imaginable to arrive in Greece.
At Hotel Rovies there are opportunities for the refugees which include drama classes and swimming lessons at the beach outside. They also have access to Arabic language television stations in the reception area and the women use a collective kitchen area to prepare traditional meals.
Another important element in creating a healthy environment for the children is that they are being taught German, English and French by Greek teachers and fellow refugees.
The relationship that has formed between the staff and the refugees is a unique and strong one. Vasileiou explained to english.alarabiya.net that it is very emotional when it is time for one of the refugees to leave and move on to their final destination.
“We cry a lot. The bonds between the refugees, the staff and the villagers are very strong. They all promise to come back,” he said.
Thus far the UNHCR program to accommodate refugees has housed 18,200 individuals in either apartments, host families or hotels.