Actor and High Profile Supporter, Theo James travelled to Greece on his first visit with UNHCR in June 2016. Theo has a very personal story that connects him to the refugee situation. His Grandfather, Dr. Nicholas Taptiklis, fled Greece during the Second World War, making his way by boat and then overland through Turkey to Damascus, Syria. Immediately after the Second World War ended, Dr. Taptiklis worked in Gottingen, Germany with the organisation that was the precursor to the UN Refugee Agency, fighting typhoid and tuberculosis in the refugee camps.
Theo was in Greece to learn more about the work of UNHCR and the situation for refugees. There are currently over 57,000 refugees remaining in Greece following the EU Turkey deal and border closures.
Theo said, “The mission with UNHCR felt deeply personal but more importantly it was eye opening. We are all aware of how complex and politically charged the refugee crisis in Greece is. But to meet these families, these fathers and mothers struggling in the midst of one of the greatest humanitarian crises since The Second World War, was beyond anything I had expected. These are people like you and me fleeing their country out of total necessity. The only other option for them is war and death. UNHCR’s work with its partners, the Greek government and its people is imperative to the millions of refugees and their legacy.”
Theo went onto say “We met Rafi in the Alexandreia emergency reception site in Northern Greece. Rafi is a bright and intelligent boy of 17 who had spent the last three years seeking asylum with his family. Despite having lost much of the bone in his right elbow and his left knee from a bomb blast in Syria he radiated positivity. Of course he felt frustrated at times, but he looked to the future with hope and resilience. He wants to live in France because he learnt some French in school and enjoys the language. I hope he gets there.”
In December 2017 Theo travelled to Strasbourg to meet with one of the refugees whom he met in Greece, Housam. Theo had previously met with Housam in a refugee camp in Lakadikia, Greece 18 months ago. Housam is one of the 32,000 refugees who have been relocated as part of the EU’s emergency relocation scheme to share responsibility for the refugee crisis.