A refugee support programme organised by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC), and financed out of the USD 2 million emergency fund established by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has been hailed as a success by refugees and local authorities alike.
The HOC Refugees Support Programme recently built four basketball courts in the largest refugee camp in Athens, which houses between 750 and 1,000 refugees at any given time. The HOC also provided sports equipment (basketballs, footballs, volleyballs, jackets and 600 pairs of running shoes); and, in partnership with TOP Sponsor P&G of Greece, personal hygiene kits will also be provided.
Some USD 500,000 has been allocated for refugee-centred projects so far. The remaining USD 1.5 million is still available to NOCs and other parties, which are asked to submit their proposals to the IOC for consideration. The USD 2 million fund is made up of USD 1 million from the IOC and USD 1 million from Olympic Solidarity.
Thanks to the success of first phase of support in Athens, the HOC came into contact with the local authorities responsible for housing refugees at the 2004 Olympic venue for gymnastics in Galatsi, Athens. Informed that they were in urgent need of blankets, sheets, towels and shoes, the HOC secured a significant amount of the material, which it delivered to the Olympic venue on 26 October. The gesture was warmly welcomed by the migrants as well as the Deputy Mayor.
The HOC now plans to introduce similar projects in Athens and elsewhere around the country.