Summary of the Appeal
This Operations Update no. 3 is to report on the implementation progress of activities from 9 January – 2 June. A revised Emergency Appeal was published in May 2016 to reflect the current situation, focusing on providing assistance to the migrants stranded as well as the host communities in Greece, while supporting and strengthening the efforts of the Hellenic Red Cross. This appeal ends in January 2017, with a final report due by 30 April 2017.
Situation In 2015, Greece became the primary entry point for migrants coming into Europe. In one year alone, a total of 856,723 people3 arrived by sea, undertaking the crossing from Turkey in makeshift and often inadequate boats.
The EU and Turkey`s officials reached an agreement on 18 March to address the increasing influx of migrants entering Europe since 2015. Under the agreement, effective 20 March onwards, migrants entering Greece will be returned to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum within 48 hours of arrival or if their claims are rejected. Thousands of migrants already in Greece could be resettled in Europe if their asylum claims are accepted. As of reporting date the legal and logistical infrastructure to implement this agreement is being put in place but the time needed for the process to be completed is unclear. On the evening of 19 March the Greek Government began to evacuate the islands in an effort to make a clear distinction between migrants arriving before and after the deadline under the agreement. As a result, the hotspots on Lesvos, Chios and Samos were turned into administrative detention centres. Consequently, several humanitarian actors pulled back on providing services directly in the detention camps citing violations of International Law as the reason and being unwilling to be associated with a process they regard as illegal and unfair.
The nature of the humanitarian operation has therefore changed going from a situation in which people needed assistance aimed at aiding their transit through Greece, to one where they have become static and camp-based for an as yet undetermined time. The number of migrant arriving to the islands, has decreased and is expected to decrease further, assuming no other intervening external factors.