The difference private facilities can makeFor the refugees living in the Lagadikia site, significant improvements by the Danish Refugee Council have made vital improvements for their everyday lives. Access to private showers and toilets and new kitchen appliances has led to an increased sense of dignity among the many people stuck at the site.
This January, Khadija Walid Ibrahim and her family experienced an upgrade of their living conditions in the Lagadikia refugee hosting site as they moved into pre-fabricated housing units, so-called ISO Boxes.
"It may seem small or insignificant to you, but the renovation of the ISO Boxes has made our lives so much easier; I don’t need to escort my children to the bathroom anymore and I can bathe in complete privacy”, says the 29-year-old, who fled the war in Syria in August 2016 with her four young children and her elderly mother. They arrived in Greece in the fall of 2017 and have been living in the Lagadikia site for the last seven months.
Khadija Walid Ibrahim, who fled Afghanistan with her young children, is excited to have a more safe and private space for her family. PHOTO: DRC
DRC carries out the role of Site Management Support in several sites across Greece, collaborating closely with the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy and other primary duty bearers to provide assistance and services (shelter, food packages, nonfood items, and access to water, sanitation and hygiene) as well as support in coordinating activities.
DRC’s upgrade to the Lagadikia refugee hosting site in North Greece, was done with the support of the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) and was one of the biggest construction upgrades in refugee sites in mainland Greece.
Construction of housing units at Lagadikia refugee site. PHOTO: DRC
The upgrade included the addition of 150 new accommodation spaces to site, which can now host up to 550 people, and includes dedicated space to host 30 unaccompanied minors. Moreover, it improved living conditions at the site for all residents, by ensuring that they all have access to private sanitation and kitchen facilities, along with basic furniture.
“Overall, a total of 74 new prefabricated housing units of 24 square meters each were installed on constructed concrete bases. Fifteen of the 60 existing ISO Boxes were removed, and the rest were transformed into 30 housing units of 36 square meters each”, said DRC Shelter/Wash Officer Stylianos Apostolas.
“New water, sewage and electrical networks were constructed and installed, and the project also included the installation of electrical protection against frost, a communal laundry area, a fire protection system, and the full renovation of the site's basketball and volleyball courts”, he added.
The newly installed ISO Boxes in Lagadikia refugee site in Greece. PHOTO: DRC
The upgrade of the refugee hosting site in Lagadikia is a major milestone for all organizations providing services in the site, but most importantly, for the refugees themselves.
“After leaving your whole life behind, sharing basic things such as water and hygiene facilities with hundreds of people made us loose the only thing we came with, our dignity”, Khadija explained. Her 47-year-old mother, Sheikha Mohammad, shared her point. “Once my living conditions were improved, I felt I had some dignity back, it even helped my mental health”, she said.
Also, the installation of new kitchen appliances was popular among many of the refugee inhabitants of the new housing containers:
“We used to do our own cooking every day back in Syria - it’s a huge part of our culture. Since we have an oven and a sink now, we can cook and eat together as a family”, Khadija explained.
The ISO Boxes include a small kitchen where families can now do their own cooking. PHOTO: DRC
A survey conducted by the DRC shows Among the refugees the satisfaction with their homes – especially having access to a kitchen - was significant.