European Refugee Crisis Response project

Lali Foster, Communications Manager at Translators without Borders, responds to the European Refugee Crisis with an update from work on the ground in Lesvos, Greece.

‘Today, a seasoned humanitarian worker told me he had never understood how important language was in humanitarian crises until he started working on the European refugee response. Why? Because refugees travelling through Europe need clear information they can understand at every point in their journey. They need it to move, to work their way through complex asylum procedures and keep safe, healthy and warm. With very few Arabic and Farsi speakers (let alone Urdu, Pashto, Dari) on the ground in Greece and up through the Balkan route, TWB’s remote translation support has never been so urgently needed.

As you can imagine, Translators without Borders Rapid Response Teams have been extremely busy. We are guided by three priorities in managing our workload: 1. Addressing urgent humanitarian messaging widely across the affected population. 2. Expanding the geographical reach of our work to each stage of the refugee journey, 3. Adapting quickly to the ever-changing needs of this crisis. To date, our team of 100 professional translators acting as rapid responders has produced 5,000 words of key health information (including winter and protection info) and 5,000 words of longer-term and asylum information, which has been disseminated through key partners where it is needed the most.
Our teams have been working all day, every day to produce an enormous variety of messages that include over 100,000 words of rapidly changing information translated into Arabic, Dari, Farsi, French, Greek, Kurdish, Pashto, and Urdu. These include, but are not limited to, signage, health advice, guidelines for volunteers and staff, audio messaging, maps, ATM use instructions, scripts for radio, vocabulary lists for volunteers working at shore sites, web content, travel advice, newspaper articles, and legislation. With such critical information, the trust our humanitarian partners put in our speed and accuracy is enormous. I’m really proud to be working with such professional teams because so many humanitarians here now depend on our work to do theirs.’

by Lali Foster

Communications Manager
TWB Words of Relief
European Refugee Crisis Response project


lali@translatorswithoutborders.org