• Overview
  • Medical
  • Business


Athens has been the capital of Greece since 1834.  A humble village of 4,000 inhabitants at that time has turned into a Metropolis with a population of more than 3 million, engulfing almost 30% of the country’s population. Along those 200 years, people from all over the country settled in the capital bringing along their customs and their unique way of life turning the city into a melting pot. This characteristic facilitates Athens coping with the new challenge posed by the hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees that have either passed or settled in the city.

Between January 2015 and October 2020, an estimate of 1,201,978 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece (IOM), trying to find their way to Northern European States.  With the closure of the Northern borders (Fall of 2015), tens of thousands of these refugees were stranded in Greece, adding their numbers to refugees and migrants that had arrived in the country during the period 2000 – 2010, and are still arriving after 2015. By the end of December 2019, an estimated 112,300 migrants and refugees were stranded in Greece, with the majority living in the capital (UNHCR). 

Region: Central Greece

*Data was provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from this report and by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from this report.

*The photo of Thiva was sourced from publicly available photos from Glass art.

Date of last update: 11/03/2020

Refugee Population : 1,201,978
Health Care : N/A


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete


The Greek healthcare system consists mainly of the National Health System (NHS) which provides free, equitable and comprehensive health coverage to the entire population and a private healthcare system. The massive and rapid influx of refugees and migrants in Greece, resembling a humanitarian crisis, combined with the long and deep economic depression during the previous decade have posed significant challenges for the Greek NHS. 

Although struggling, the Greek NHS must cope with complex health issues of refugees. A large number of refugees suffer from non-communicable diseases (asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension), which are underdiagnosed in their countries and poorly controlled during their arduous journey. Once in Greece they are often exposed to various infectious disease outbreaks (influenza, varicella, tuberculosis, measles, meningococcal disease and scabies), due to inadequate immunization coverage, overcrowding, sharing dormitories, poor hygiene conditions and undernourishment.

Language is an additional key constraint.  For reasons of miscommunication, refugees could miss appointments or are unable to communicate effectively with the healthcare providers. Cultural mediators are not always effective or sufficient, especially if they are not familiar with medical terms. The complexity and fragmentation of the Greek primary health care system may also complicate access for refugees. The provision of medical care and medicines is further hindered by refusal or bureaucratic delays in visa entitlements and AMKA (National Insurance Number) provision.




Patient Consulations


Vision Screenings


Health Education Workshops


Volunteers from Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals Medical Brigade in Ritsona Long Term Accommodation Center preparing for the clinic to begin.

We are establishing a stable day clinic in the center of Athens to provide quality health care to refugees and asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable populations, relieving the burden of an otherwise strained and overwhelmed primary healthcare system. Here they can feel valued and respected as a whole person whose need for quality healthcare will be fulfilled, along with sensitivity to gender, ethnicity, and cultural beliefs. Continuity in the same environment and healthcare team can be helpful in building mutual familiarity and trust which are important for the patients to disclose important aspects of their health. Along with the provision of primary health care we will offer health education and prevention training. Finally, we will serve as coordinators, arranging referrals to specialists based on the underlying conditions of our patients.



Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Munster University Medical TeleBrigade March 2021 19 University of Florida Medical TeleBrigade March 2021 15
Dana’s Hills High School Health TeleSquad April 2021 51 Boston University Medical TeleBrigade May 2021 31
University of Texas San Antonio & University of Dublin Medical TeleBrigade May 2021 20 University of Texas Dallas & Penn State Medical TeleBrigade May 2021 17
Southwestern University & Miami University Medical TeleBrigade May 2021 17 University of California Irvine Medical TeleBrigade June 2021 14
University of Oklahoma Medical Brigade July 2021 10 University of Central Florida Medical Brigade July 2021 17
University of North Carolina Charlotte Medical Brigade July 2021 20 University of Oklahoma Medical Brigade August 2021 14
George Mason University Medical Brigade August 2021 11 Munster University Medical Brigade August 2021 12


Program Status

  • Planning
  • Active
  • Complete

Refugee and Migrant small business owners’ challenges in Athens

Refugee and migrant business owners in Athens are mainly located in the city center. With their small businesses, stores, and traditional restaurants, these entrepreneurs rejuvenated downtown areas abandoned by middle-class Athenians who moved to the suburbs during and after the 80s. 

When running their small business, migrants and refugees in Athens find it difficult to maintain them or grow them because of their lack of financial literacy and resources. Migrants and refugees also normally have little knowledge of local laws and the local business environment, and limited  access to financial resources and bank institutions. On top of that, some might be subjected to discriminatory behaviours. These challenges are exacerbated by the widespread repercussions of the Debt crisis and the years of prolonged recession, now worsened by the Pandemic which has sunk the country into yet another recession.

Community Bank : N/A
Community Bank Members : N/A
Economic Activities : Various
Existing Microenterprises : Various

Our Program in Athens

Afghan Marketplace in Athens

The Business Program in Greece works to support these small business owners through financial training and business consulting. This support can lead to increased revenues for business owners and employees, and in doing so, favor their economic and social inclusion into the local community.

As clients of our business program, the migrants and refugees get advice/consultancy on their most concerning business challenges and can also receive assistance in developing stronger business plans and practices either by business strategies and/or through marketing and advertising.


Chapter Date # Of Volunteers Chapter Date # Of Volunteers
Bocconi University April 2021 10

Local Reference Points

View the map to see the closest volunteer lodging facilities, hospitals, and other relevant points of reference.

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