More Solidarity from European States Needed to Address the Situation in Lesvos, Greece

Damage to Moria camp in Lesvos Greece after fire. Photo: IOM Greece

Over 12,000 migrants and refugees were left homeless by the tragic fire at the Moria Reception and Identification Center (RIC) in Lesvos last week (8/09)). 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on European states and the EU to take a twin track approach, urgently supporting the immediate shelter and care for the displaced migrants and refugees while setting up longer-term solutions rooted in European solidarity. 

“While the priority right now is to address the immediate needs of migrants and refugees in Lesvos, more sustainable solutions are needed,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. 

This can be achieved through a stronger relocation system and a concrete show of solidarity from European States. We need more relocation commitments in these trying times while the EU establishes a more predictable and effective system based on responsibility sharing,” the IOM Director General added. IOM has reinforced its presence on Lesvos to respond to the needs of thousands of people left on the streets, including an estimated 4,000 children. Through EU-funded projects, IOM is also supporting efforts by Greek authorities to provide temporary accommodation facilities as well as mobile storage units and other technical equipment. 

Due to the exceptional coordination efforts of IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF—and with the financial support of the EU--over 400 unaccompanied children were moved from the island to the mainland within 24 hours of the blaze in anticipation of their relocation to other European States. IOM, in coordination with the Greek government, receiving EU Member States, the European Commission, UNHCR, UNICEF and the European Asylum Support Office, has also facilitated the relocation of over 600 unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people to six other EU countries this year. 

“There are many other children and families in need of this lifeline, and we urge more states to come forward and support ongoing efforts to de-congest the islands and assist Greece,” added Mr Vitorino 

“The situation on the island remains tense. We understand the frustration of migrants and refugees who found themselves on the street overnight, as well as the challenges faced by local communities and the Greek Government.” 

Over the weekend, thousands of migrants and refugees took to the streets protesting the current situation, which was met with a strong response from the Greek authorities. 

“We appeal to all parties to show restraint to protect people from harm and avoid further complicating an already difficult situation,” said the Director General. 

The Moria center was built to host some 3,000 people but was overwhelmed by the number of migrants and refugees reaching four times its intended capacity. The facility suffered fires and unrest in the past before it was placed under quarantine after at least 35 migrants tested positive for COVID-19.   

For more information please contact:  

In Greece: Christine Nikοlaidou,, +30 6947833412   

In Brussels: Ryan Schroeder,, + 32 492 25 02 34    

In Geneva: Safa Msehli,, +41 794035526