IOM Reinforces Assistance on Lesvos to Support Island Decongestion, Longer-Term Solutions
Athens – Two weeks after the tragic fire on Lesvos and the settlement of more than 9,000 migrants and refugees in a temporary accommodation facility, IOM has deployed additional staff to Lesvos to support efforts by the Greek authorities to reduce overcrowding on the island.
IOM welcomes the response of the Greek authorities and partners’ efforts to provide for the immediate needs of shelter, food and water and urges a continued push for longer-term, sustainable solutions for all migrants and refugees on Lesvos and the other North-Eastern Aegean islands.
“Our focus is to promote and support sustainable options for people who are eligible to leave the island of Lesvos,” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of IOM’s mission in Greece.
“The safe, humane and orderly movement of more people from the island is a top priority and we will continue working in this direction in close coordination with the Greek authorities.”
To this end, IOM is assisting all unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people who are deemed eligible by the authorities for transfer from the islands to mainland Greece and relocation to other European states.
The Organization is also providing integration support on the mainland for recognized refugees through IOM’s EU-funded “HELIOS” project, shelter of vulnerable groups on the mainland, and assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) for those who choose to return to their country of origin in safety and dignity.
The HELIOS project team is assisting recognized refugees on the islands to identify housing solutions on the mainland with the wider goal of promoting their integration into Greek society.
At the same time, on Lesvos and the other islands, IOM information teams are reaching out to and working with migrants who express an interest to return to their home countries through the EU- and Greece-funded AVRR programme.
Immediately after the fire at the Moria centre, IOM with the support of the European Commission and in coordination with UNHCR and UNICEF moved more than 400 unaccompanied children from Lesvos to the Greek mainland in less than 24 hours. A plan for the transfer of the unaccompanied children from all the Greek islands has been developed by the Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors and the first group of children will be transferred within the next 24 hours into temporary shelters on the mainland.
“We are ready to assist the safe transfer of all unaccompanied children to the mainland and support their relocation to other European countries. To date, more than 900 people, including children and people with vulnerabilities, have been relocated from Greece,” said Rocco.
“We applaud the commitments made by European countries to receive more children and vulnerable people and encourage even wider participation in the future.”
IOM is hopeful that the European Commission’s proposal for an EU Pact on Migration and Asylum will represent an opportunity for Europe to reimagine the governance of migration and human mobility as safe, orderly, inclusive and rights-centred through a common, longer-term and comprehensive approach.
For more information please contact: