Are the NGOs like the Red Cross really not there?
UNHCR is funded by all the member nations and tasked with supporting all refugees/migrants around the world. They have to work in a coordinated way with local governments. Sometimes that can take a while. If the situation changes quickly, it can catch the UNHCR without the right people in the right places. At the time we were there in October, there were no formal large NGOs at the landing sites. UNHCR and many others simply didn't have staff to be in very many places. UNHRC did provide transportation and buses to take people to the registration site, but even those resources were not sufficient for the numbers of people arriving because they had not anticipated the scale. Similarly, the lines to register in Lesvos were several days long in October, mostly because they could not get staff onsite quickly enough. There was no food and shelter provided while people were waiting for registration. It was horrifying, and people were suffering from exposure and hypothermia.
Can I come to Lesvos to help?
At the moment, Lesvos is no longer the place to be. If you want to come help, you can join the Volunteers coordination Team (LESVOS) group on Facebook, or reach out to us directly on our facebook page. Through that group, you can see which skills are needed on the ground, how to manage logistics, and coordinate other needs to help the volunteers. For those of you allergic to using facebook, try contacting us via email, though we are less likely to respond quickly.
Are contributions Tax Deductible?
Yes, We received our 501(c)(3) status in November of 2015. Every donation made in by US citizens is tax deductible.
What groups are currently working on Lesvos?
We've worked and verified the following groups:
- The Volunteer Cook at Skala
- Drop in the Ocean -Norwegian Volunteers that help boats land
- Michael, a Doctor from Africa that has been providing care
- The group running the landing camp at Skala
- The Volunteers Coordination Team for Lesvos
- Starfish foundation - Molyvos
- Lighthouse Refugee Relief - another camp on the beach
- The Spanish Lifeguards Proactiva Services
- Team Humanity from Denmark
Outside of Lesvos, we're working with some of the same organizations, but there are many, many others.
Are donations used for travel?
No. While we do travel to Greece and Turkey to monitor the situation, volunteer alongside other organizations, and identify the best ways to use the funds, none of SoS volunteers are paid, or have their travel reimbursed. The funds donated go exclusively towards purchasing food, clothing, and essential supplies for the refugees.