Year 2020 ended with 15,700 arrivals, of which 500 were recorded in December. Two shipwrecks off Lesvos claimed the lives of four people attempting to reach Greece.
UNHCR called for comprehensive solutions and safe, regulated alternatives so that refugees are not driven to put their lives at risk on these dangerous voyages. Greece officially abolished the practice of placing unaccompanied children in protective custody. UNHCR welcomes the milestone policy change and works with the State to establish a protection safety net.
Working with Partners
- UNHCR supports the Government of Greece which leads the refugee response, working closely with other United Nations agencies, State institutions, municipalities, international and national NGOs, grassroots organizations, refugee communities and local communities.
COVID-19 Prevention and Response
UNHCR assists the Greek Government’s prevention and response to COVID-19 in the reception centres by increasing water and sanitation capacity, providing core relief and hygiene items, installing health units for screening and isolation, distributing additional cash assistance, facilitating information dissemination through helplines and interpreters and enhancing its coordination role with authorities, NGOs and UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO).
Quarantine and isolation spaces are now available in almost all border locations but lack sufficient medical staff to be fully operational. On the islands and in Evros,
UNHCR has provided 81 medical units for screening and isolation as well as 275 portable units for hygiene and sanitation, including chemical toilets, showers and hand washing stations. In Samos, UNHCR also helped form cleaning committees for waste collection with the participation of refugees.
UNHCR protects the population at high risk of COVID-19 complications in the island reception centres – where it is difficult to apply social distancing measures – by moving them to safer accommodation. Since mid-March 2020, UNHCR moved to safer locations some 2,180 people.
UNHCR facilitates access to quality information for asylum-seekers via helplines, interpretation, the HELP website, podcasts, radio spots, a YouTube channel and through information disseminated via phone SMS. UNHCR assists refugee communities to offer help to co-residents in the island reception centres.
UNHCR and partners running non-formal education centres ensure that classrooms are adequately equipped, social distances are observed, and children can learn in a safe environment.