The language of humanity
March 2, 2016 | 3:22 PM
by Dr Elias Nikolakopoulos
Migrants, who are waiting to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, stand in a camp, near the village of Idomeni, Greece on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Photo - Reuters

Greece is going through its worse financial crisis in the past 50 years. Greeks are suffering from an unemployment rate of around 30 per cent in the private sector that in ages below 30 it ismore than 50 per cent.

Pensions and salaries are being slashed by strict monetary policy while taxation keeps growing in order to secure funds to pay the country’s debts.

The war in Syria has displaced millions of Syrians who try to find their way to Europe through Turkey and Greece.

People smugglers drop off hundreds of Syrian refugees and other illegal immigrants to the coasts of the Greek islands of Lesvos (Mytilini), Kos and others.

Many drown, families, women and children, and the ones who arrive to the islands are starting a new very difficult journey to Athens, the capital of Greece and then to the north in order to cross Greece, enter the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia on their way to the German border.

Many of the refugees are trying to cover the distance of 800 km, between Athens and the border with FYROM on foot, as they don’t have money for transport.

Greeks, having suffered as refugees less than 100 years ago, are very sensitive to the subject and are trying to help in any way possible. Despite their own situation, they are trying to accommodate, help and support Syrian refugees on a wide voluntary basis. Doctors, plain civilians, all are involved in the collection of food, clothes, medicine and anything else of use to provide assistance to the ones who need it all over Greece.

In an unprecedented move, Dimitris Papastergiou, the Mayor of Trikala, a city that is in the middle of the distance between Athens and the, closed now, FYROM borders, prepared his city for the arrival of the refugees and even wrote a welcome letter for them in Arabic that says:

Dear Friend from the East,

In your difficult and long way to your destination you are coming through our town. The hospitable city of Trikala, located in the heart of Greece.

The people, the municipality and the Authorities, we welcome you and we promise you that we will do our very best, so that your stay here is safe, so that you have good sanitary conditions, sufficient meals, and soon to bid you farewell with a smile, for the continuation of your trip.

Please respect our effort, coming from the hearts of all the citizens of Trikala, and let us remind you that here we are going through the worse financial crisis of the last 50 years.

Please do not waste water and food we offer and try to keep your space clean,

Collect and throw to the bins anything that you don’t need,

Ask the people in charge for whatever you might need and give us some time to provide it to you,

Respect your fellow travelers, be patient and let us help each other in our daily work (collecting small garbage, cleaning the table after food, etc.),

We are making every effort to have volunteers to entertain your children and provide them even with a small smile and some joy in their eyes.

You have to know that all of us who look after you, we are volunteers and we do it from our hearts, because we really want to stand by you in this difficult period you are going through with your lives.

When, inshaallah very soon, you reach to your destination, please let us know either by email at

[email protected] or through our Facebook page

Honestly, we will be very happy to know that you reached safely and healthy to your destination, because in this way we will know that our wishes have really come true.

Have a pleasant stay and a safe trip.

The Mayor and the citizens of the city of Trikala

- Exclusive to the Times of Oman

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