I have been working in the international humanitarian and human rights fields since 1996, in the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Australia and Africa, mainly with the UN. I decided to take a break and return to Greece in 2015 and, while on sabbatical leave from the UN, found myself a volunteer and independent humanitarian adviser on the refugee crisis in the island of Lesvos.
Since July 2015 I have volunteered independently on the beaches at the first response, immediate needs assessment and transporting vulnerable people before buses were put in place, in the Moria hotspot supporting in protection monitoring, vulnerability referrals and paralegal work in relation to the asylum application process and with the MSF vaccination campaign in 2016.
I have written a number of articles relating to the refugee situation in Greece, in Irin News (irinnews.org), the Forced Migration Review (fmreview.org, Issue 51), Open Democracy (opendemocracy.net) and Chatham House (chathamhouse.org), as well as in Greek dailies (Efymerida Syntakton and Kathimerini; efsyn.gr, kathimerini.gr).
I worked as field adviser for Solidarity Now in Lesvos (October 2015-February 2016). In March 2016 I led a UNICEF assessment in the camps in northern Greece providing recommendations for UNICEF’s involvement in the response. In early 2017 I conducted an assessment of the urban refugee population in Athens and Thessaloniki on behalf of the Danish Refugee Council with a focus on protection, legal assistance and education. I have also done independent appraisal missions to Athens, Idomeni, Thessaloniki, Evros region and the islands of Chios and Samos.
In September 2015 I made a presentation on Lesvos at a conference organised by the University of Manchester, entitled ‘Quest for Humanitarian Effectiveness’; in December 2015 I coorganised a round table on Lesvos with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in London and was later invited speaker to a Chatham House round table (July 2016).
I have provided inputs to researchers from universities (/UK/US/Dutch), NGOs and media and was invited speaker and fixer for journalists. I have been invited to speak on a range of issues revolving around the situation in Greece, at Oxford University’s Refugee Studies annual conference, Durham, Amsterdam, Athens and Peloponnese universities.
I have an active twitter account (@FotiniRantsiou) and this blog includes all my written work on the refugee situation in Greece. The posts are my own work and as such should be referenced.