NORCAP expert Konstantinos Karagiannis is working with the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) in Greece, to make sure asylum seekers are properly registered and able to file their asylum claims from the new camp in Lesvos.
Lesvos

"This is an emergency response, not a long-term solution"

“Refugees and migrants have now moved to the new camp to receive emergency shelter,” says Kostas Karagiannis, from the newly set-up camp close to Mytilene town on the Greek island of Lesvos.

After the devastating fires at the Moria camp earlier this month, over 12,000 refugees and migrants were made homeless. With nowhere to go, families had to sleep by roadsides and in supermarket car parks. NORCAP’s experts working in support of Greek institutions responded by supporting the coordination of the relief operation.

“There are many families with young children in the new camp, and we need to work with the other aid agencies to ensure that everyone feels secure,” says Kostas, a programme adviser from NORCAP, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s global provider of expertise.

Sheltering refugees

Kostas is currently working as an adviser to the Director of the Reception and Identification Service (RIS).

“The main goal has been to build immediate facilities to shelter families who were left with nowhere to go because of the fires,” he says.

The new camp is currently sheltering about 9,500 refugees and migrants. With support from our experts, the authorities have now identified and registered all the camp residents.

NORCAP experts have been playing an important role in supporting engineering and planning activities in the new emergency camp, working with the Greek authorities and in collaboration with other humanitarian organisations. Because of this joint response the residents now have access to food, electricity and toilets. Efforts to improve the infrastructure and facilities are still ongoing.

Read more: On the ground in Moria

NORCAP expert Konstantinos Karagiannis is working with the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) in Greece, to make sure asylum seekers  are properly registered and able to file their asylum claims from the new camp in Lesvos. (Photo: RIS/NORCAP)
Read caption NORCAP expert Kostas is working with the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) in Greece, to make sure asylum seekers are properly registered and able to file their asylum claims from the new camp in Lesvos. Photo: RIS/NORCAP

Moria no longer exists

Initially designed for 3,000 people, the overcrowded Moria camp was sheltering over 12,000 refugees and migrants when the fires broke out. Residents had been struggling to leave the camp because asylum seekers were kept in Moria while their claims were being processed.

“The new emergency site has the capacity to shelter more than 10,000 refugees on a temporary basis,” says Kostas. “It’s important to understand that it is an emergency response, not a long-term solution. We must still do our best to ensure that the population will decrease and that living conditions will keep improving.”

The new camp is not a substitute to Moria, but it provides temporary shelter to the people who were evacuated.

As winter approaches, a big concern is the location of the new camp. Being so close to the sea, it is extremely vulnerable to harsh weather. In this emergency situation, it is important for NORCAP to ensure that the residents live in dignified conditions, as they are gradually relocated to other facilities.

At the same time, European states must step up their relocation efforts so that these families can be safe and secure in the future.

Capacity Building Project

NORCAP has been present in Greece since the start of the refugee influx in August 2015 and has supported both the humanitarian UN response and Greek authorities. NORCAP’s support to Lesvos is part of the Capacity Building Project for Greece, which aims to strengthen the capacity of key government institutions in Greece so that they can uphold the rights of refugees and migrants and ensure they are treated in a dignified way. The project is funded by EEA and Norway Grants and operated by ΣΟΛ Crowe and HumanRights360.