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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

Etihad delivers clothes and school supplies to 2,450 children in Greek refugee camps

The move represents the first step in the airline’s support for refugee children in Greece

Children at the Kara Tepe refugee camp in Greece collect school supplies delivered by Etihad. Victor Besa/The National
Children at the Kara Tepe refugee camp in Greece collect school supplies delivered by Etihad. Victor Besa/The National

Etihad Airways has made a donation of stationery, clothing, blankets and books to 2,450 children at refugee camps across Greece in time the new academic year.

Its employees delivered the supplies for every child in the Ritsona and Malakasa camps north of Athens and to Kara Tepe, a camp for families on Lesbos island.

Plans are under way to provide more support to camps in Greece, where resources have been pushed to the brink due to overcrowding as hundreds of migrants continue to arrive on its shores from Turkey.

The initiative is part of Etihad Airways' annual September donations programme for pupils living in challenging circumstances.

“Our focus is always children and support for education, so bringing children and stationary was a focal point for us,” said Khaled Al Mehairbi, head of the company’s corporate social responsibility.

“Every September we look at the schools and children we can support.”

Children between the ages of four and 15 received 2,450 school bags and stationery kits, and 4,500 blankets flown in from Abu Dhabi on a Boeing 777. The donation was made in co-operation with the Emirates Red Crescent and organised over a series of months.

It represents the first step in the airline’s support for refugee children in Greece, said Mr Al Mehairbi.

“We have talked to the director of the [Kara Tepe] camp in Lesbos and we have asked him what is needed in line with the needs of people in the camps," he said.

"He will send us a list of items he sees as urgent and we will see how we can work to provide him with his requirements.”

Camps are now preparing for winter.

This delegation said the desire to undertake humanitarian work was laid down by the founding president, Sheikh Zayed, and the ongoing nationwide Year of Zayed campaign marks his birth a century ago.

School supplies were distributed to about 1,500 children at Kara Tepe on Lesbos, where Etihad volunteers joined children for a football match. Two days later, volunteers helped distribute donations to 250 children living at Malakasa and 500 children at the Ritsona camp in a ceremony attended by the UAE ambassador to Greece, Mohammed Mir Abdullah Al Raisi.

Etihad provided donations and voluntary support earlier this year in India, Sri Lanka and Rohingya communities in Bangladesh.

Next month, the airline will distribute canes to people with visual impairments in Morocco.

Equally important are the projects they have done within the UAE, said Mr Al Mehairbi.

Local organisations and companies are encouraged to come forward to help them in providing others with tangible assistance.

“If they can help, we’ll sit and talk,” said Mr Al Mehairbi.