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Regional Bureau for Europe: Greece Update #13 Lesvos (8 January 2021)

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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is supporting the government-led response after a series of fires destroyed the Reception and Identification Centre in Moria (Lesvos) in September 2020.

UNHCR has scaled up its support for all asylum-seekers affected and urges for comprehensive and humane solutions to address difficult living conditions on Greek islands.

BACKGROUND

In September 2020, a series of fires ravaged the Moria Reception and Identification Centre, leaving 12,000 people homeless. Nearly 7,300 asylumseekers and refugees, the majority women and children, are currently sheltered in the Mavrovouni site, which was set up by the authorities to host those affected.

Many others, including unaccompanied children, were transferred to alternative accommodations.

The Greek authorities lead the response with support of UN agencies, including UNHCR, as well as international and national NGOs and volunteer groups.

LATEST IN BRIEF

Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis travelled to Lesvos and visited the Mavrovouni site on 31 December 2020, where UNHCR staff briefed him on the progress made to improve the site. UNHCR continues to advocate for a comprehensive response, including transfers of asylum-seekers to sustainable accommodation and continuous European support, such as through relocation of asylum-seekers to other European states.

With tragic incidents at sea in December claiming the lives of at least four persons attempting to reach Greece, UNHCR reiterated the need for safe and regulated alternatives for people to avoid risking their lives on dangerous journeys. In December, Lesvos recorded 180 new arrivals, down from 3,460 in the same period last year. Some 4,680 sea arrivals in Lesvos have been recorded in 2020 compared to 27,050 in 2019.