Greece + 8 more

UNHCR Regional Bureau Europe: Weekly Report (February 10, 2017 4:59 PM)

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Key Figures

10,991
arrivals by sea in 2017

256
dead/missing in 2017

Trends of Sea Arrivals

The number of arrivals to the Aegean islands during the week of 30 January was 460. Daily sea arrivals fluctuated between 0 arrivals (04-05 February) and 142 (03 February). Lesvos recorded the majority of estimated sea arrivals (135), followed by Samos (125). Comparing with the previous week the average number of daily arrivals increased from 36 to 66. In January there have been a total of 1,399 sea arrivals to Greece during the month, noting a decreasing trend from previous months in 2016 (Sept: 3,080, Oct: 2,970, Nov: 1,991 and Dec: 1,665). Meanwhile in Italy, 4,162 persons (including some 400 unaccompanied and separated children [UASC], i.e. 10%) arrived to Italy after having been rescued in search and rescue operations. New arrivals departed from Libya (Zawiya and Sabratha) and mainly originate from sub-Saharan African countries, but include also persons from northern African countries, as well as Bangladesh and Pakistan. During the week, 74 people autonomously reached Italian shores in two separate groups, the first group comprised of 10 Tunisian nationals (including one UASC) and the second was made up of 64 Iraqi nationals of Kurdish origin. However, the overall most common countries of origin among 2017 arrivals to Italy include Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Nigeria.

Key Developments

Situation in Greece

Severe winter weather conditions in Greece have subsided during the week. However, efforts to improve living conditions at sites, particularly at the islands, and transfers to improved accommodation remain a priority for authorities, UNHCR, and partners. During the reporting period, 343 people were transferred from the islands to the mainland (169 Lesvos, 87 Chios, 62 Samos, 22 Leros, and 3 Rhodes), including 278 transported by UNHCR. By 31 January, a total of 25,112 people have benefited from UNHCR’s Relocation and Accommodation Scheme since the beginning of the programme, and 19,129 places were available for those with specific needs and relocation candidates. On Lesvos, UNHCR has supported the transfer of 796 people from Registration and Identification Centre (RIC) Moria to alternative shelter and the mainland to date. In support of infrastructure improvements, UNHCR has prepared shelter for up-to 150 people by installing one Rubb Hall with flooring and heating and twelve family tents at the Olive Grove site, outside of RIC Moria, per an agreement with the Ministry of Migration Policy (MoMP). On 04 February, UNHCR also assisted in facilitating the move of 104 single men from Moria to the newly erected Rubb Hall at the Olive Grove. Rubber mats and sleeping bags were also distributed through partner Samaritans’ Purse.

Despite infrastructure efforts, there are still a number of areas for concern to UNHCR which continue to raise health, security and protection risks. On 30 January, an 18 year-old Pakistani man died at RIC Moria on Lesvos - making it the third death at Moria in the past two weeks. Autopsies of the deceased have been inconclusive and further medical examinations are underway. The same day, a 20 year-old Pakistani man, from the same tent as the deceased, was also hospitalized in intensive care, the medical examination confirmed that he was intoxicated with carbon monoxide. These incidents, occurred following the recent cold spell. As a matter of priority, UNHCR is supporting the Greek authorities to decrease the population of Moria and ensure adequate shelter for all. As part of UNHCR’s efforts to reduce the population in Moria, infrastructure works and installation of prefabricated containers are ongoing at Kara Tepe in order to improve accommodation to benefit the maximum capacity of the site. On Samos, continued overcrowding and poor weather at RIC Vathy are contributing to a high number of incidents of self-harm, suicide attempts, panic attacks, and aggressive behaviour. People continued to heat themselves by any means inside tents, as weather (although milder) continued to be inclement, causing serious threat of fire and other hazards. Despite a significant reduction of people in camping tents and improvements to hygiene conditions, about 700 continue to live in unheated accommodation. UNHCR is assisting the MoMP to transfer people to appropriate shelter and to the mainland.

On the mainland in Northern Greece, at a number of sites where few people remain, anxiety and anger is rising as future plans on their evacuation is unclear with insufficient information from the MoMP. This is adding to tensions and raises security concerns. Further difficulties and protection risks arise from volunteers and individuals, who are taking residents from the sites without informing the MoMP or UNHCR and thus creating protection risks. In the Attica region, at Elliniko II on 05 February, a group of about 30 people held a peaceful sit-in, protesting poor conditions there, especially the quality of food, lack of washing machines, poor maintenance of the site, and lack of interpreters. Approximately 1,600 people remain in the three Elliniko sites. In Eleonas I and II, residents have been installing electrical heaters and washing machines, overloading the electrical installation and leading to frequent power outages which can last several hours each.

Another point of concern is difficulties to identify and track people, and appointments for collection of decisions from the Asylum Service. The lack of a unified database hinder communication and access to appropriate and timely procedures, particularly for those staying in sites with limited mobile phone network coverage. Skype lines of the Asylum Service in Farsi and Urdu continue to be practically inoperative. In Elliniko for instance, asylum-seekers complain that although they attend their full registration appointments, instead of being registered, their appointments are rescheduled and they are often not provided the proper supporting documentation.

UNHCR reviewed a cash and communal needs assessment for the mainland, which analysed WASH and electricity capacities of sites. UNHCR has concluded that capacities may allow a full discontinuation of catering in March 2017 to be replaced with full roll out of cash assistance. UNHCR, IRC, IFRC, and Mercy Corps held discussions about terms and scope of a “Cash Alliance” and geographical coverage. The proposal to The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) for the “one cash provider” will be submitted on 16 February.