How a Human Rights Movement gets dis-empowered?
Sunil Babu Pant
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Having worked in the crisis as an independent for the last two years, first along the Balkans building infrastructure for traveling refugees and now working in Greece providing information and humanitarian aid. People would have died in sub zero temperatures back then, babies would have died of hypothermia and people wouldn’t have found themselves guided to safety from the sea by independent rescue organisations. When I was volunteering along the Balkans we were the only ones helping, there were NO NGO’s, we were there first at the newly created transit points at the borders. We built shelter, provided food and water, provided warm clothing, shoes, bus tickets so people could continue to travel, wifi, sim cards and phone charging and information, we even provided medical help, medicine and protection for the vulnerable in self funded accommodation for mothers and babies. Hats off to all of us. However, it’s worth noting that there are some small NGO’s and charities that have been created from independents joining together that are small, agile and doing fantastic work everywhere, especially in France and Greece and this article takes away a bit from that. They still need support and, with the departure of some of the NGO’s from Greece because funding is being taken away, refugees will suffer, there’s no doubt about it. Those who have registered as a small NGO may also find themselves being the only ones allowed to operate as they can register with the Greek authorities, and many are. It’s not all NGO’s that are cumbersome and lack the ability to move fast. It’s the big NGO’s who are weighed down by bureaucracy and size and can’t move fast enough to change their policies to suit the situation. Many small NGO’s are doing amazing work. Big up Grassroots orgs, independent volunteers and small NGO’s! I think your story was misleading in this respect and you have missed the point.

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