The Modern Greek Studies Association, founded in 1968, is an American-based, non-profit academic organization, dedicated to the promotion of Modern Greek Studies in the United States and Canada. It seeks to stimulate knowledge about the language, literature, arts, history, politics, economy, and society of modern Greece, Cyprus, and the Greek diaspora while its membership includes academics as well as non-academics alike. Given its interest in modern Greece, the Executive Board of the MGSA wishes to call attention to the dire situation of refugees, asylum seekers, and economic migrants, as well as vulnerable residents of Greece who have been affected disproportionately by the recent economic crisis. The MGSA stands in solidarity with organizations that are providing relief to these groups, and urges our members and other concerned persons to consider supporting their efforts.
The five-year recession that has cut the size of the Greek economy by about a quarter—the largest contraction of an advanced economy since the 1950s—has had catastrophic effects on unemployment rates, pensions, and salaries, as well as access to health care and numbers of citizens living below the poverty line. And while the story of the Greek debt crisis could be told in numbers, the personal stories and images emerging from this austerity-ravaged country may speak loudest to the scale of this humanitarian calamity.
Most recently, the images of thousands of refugees on Greek shores have shaken our collective conscience. Fleeing war and ongoing political conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Eritrea, Somalia and elsewhere, millions of people are on the move, many of them crossing Greek borders in search of safety. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’s annual Global Trends Report of June 2015, worldwide displacement is at the highest level ever recorded. The High Commissioner, António Guterres, has declared that “we are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before.”
This refugee crisis, coupled with the economic crisis in Greece, has triggered a wave of international support and solidarity initiatives. The MGSA wishes to direct your attention to a short list of non-profit and grass-roots organizations that have been active in relief efforts in Greece for some time. Please note that the MGSA is not raising funds directly. However, we encourage you to consider supporting any of the organizations at right. We also encourage our members to circulate the names of other reputable organizations active in Greek relief efforts via the MGSA list-serve or on their own social media sites.