The trials of a refugee camp volunteer – Neil Dykes

My wife Caroline and I are volunteering in an unheated, abandoned factory near Thessaloniki that is now home to more than a thousand Syrian refugees. Unusually, the camp is run by Syrians. The army keeps the power on, provides lunch and mans the gate, but everything else is in the hands of a committee of five Syrians.

Women gathered around an electric heater at a refugee camp in Oraiókastron, Thessaloniki, Greece. November 2016

Shortly before the fire, we warned NGOs bringing supplies into the camp that we needed kettles because there is no hot water, and more fire extinguishers because we could see that there weren’t enough. Unfortunately, the warehouse manager thought that too many kettles would overload the power supply. So the kettle and toaster storage room remained full and tidy, while young mums boiled water for their infants’ milk on camping gas stoves in the middle of their tents.

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