The makeshift refugee camp in the border area of Idomeni, in northern Greece, was once the main crossing point for hundreds of thousands of people seeking international protection in Western Europe. At one time, the camp hosted up to 14,000 refugees and migrants, but it was evacuated by the Greek authorities in May 2016. Vasilis Tsartanis, a local activist, was one of the first volunteers to help those transiting through the area. For the past three years, he has worked to help refugees in Greece, and raise awareness of the dire state of the reception system and the need for a more humane and organised European migration policy.
The Open Society Foundations has supported Tsartanis’s advocacy since 2015. Open Society believes that the European Union should commit to building a single asylum and migration system that establishes safe, legal means of migration. Existing approaches have created the appearance of failure and crisis; sustainable, affordable migration systems would foster popular understanding and support for refugee resettlement.