November saw 950 arrivals recorded, bringing the total arrivals in 2020 to 15,150. Two people perished off Rhodes and Samos when their boats attempted to cross into Greece this month – a reminder of the perils refugees face to reach safety. The population on the islands decreased by 54% since its peak in February with 42,000 people.
Children should not be in closed facilities and thanks to the determination of the Greek Government and joint efforts of UNHCR, IOM and its partners, their number has been reduced.
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 the 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).
In November, the Greek Government re-introduced a country-wide lockdown. The situation is difficult for asylum-seekers and refugees particularly those who have to shelter-in-place in sites where social distancing is untenable.
Quarantine and isolation spaces are now available in almost all border locations but lack the medical staff to be fully operational. On the islands and in Evros, UNHCR has undertaken groundworks and provided 73 medical units for screening and isolation as well as 244 portable units for hygiene and sanitation, including chemical toilets, showers and hand washing stations.
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, UNHCR has moved some 2,160 people.
UNHCR has provided over 197,000 hygiene items, such as soap and baby care kits, and over 490,000 personal protective equipment for front-line workers.
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.