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Regional Bureau for Europe: Greece Update #14 Lesvos (29 January 2021)

Situation Report
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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.


In September 2020, a series of fires ravaged the Moria Reception and Identification Centre, leaving 12,000 people homeless. Nearly 7,300 asylum-seekers 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 accommodation. The Greek authorities lead the response with support of UN agencies, including UNHCR, as well as international and national NGOs and volunteer groups.


A cold spell hit Greece on 17-20 January, with most asylum-seekers and refugees on the Aegean Islands experiencing extremely difficult conditions, especially those accommodated in tents or makeshift shelters. A week later, partners reported that strong winds on 28 January resulted in damage to four accommodation tents and some 50 tarps, which have all been replaced by the time of writing. Earlier, as a preparedness measure, UNHCR had provided 72,800 asylumseekers countrywide with a one-off top-up to their monthly cash assistance to help them cover their increased winter needs. UNHCR continues to advocate with authorities to make more space available for protective, temporary accommodation, and for further transfers to the mainland where conditions are overall better and relocation to other EU States. On 19 January, according to the Hellenic Coast Guard, one man perished in a shipwreck in a rocky area on the southern coast of Lesvos. Twenty-seven people were rescued. Forty-four persons arrived in the island from 1 to 17 January, according to the authorities. Safe and regulated alternatives to these dangerous journeys are crucial so that people do not risk their lives to find safety.