Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, Director for the IRC in Greece, said:

“It is appalling that so many are still languishing on the islands, despite numerous calls to relocate them to appropriate accommodation on the mainland. As temperatures threaten to reach sub-zero levels, blankets are not enough. Like every winter, more is needed than emergency supplies and tents reinforced with sandbags. 

“The only durable solution is to relocate people to safe, warm accommodation on the Greek mainland in addition to scaling up consistent relocation to other EU member states - prioritising the most vulnerable, including unaccompanied children and those with health conditions.

“The concerted effort made by some member states to relocate unaccompanied children after the onset of the COVID-10 pandemic and the Moria fires demonstrate that it’s perfectly possible for a wealthy, stable region like Europe to welcome people in a fairer and more dignified manner. Yet despite the Greek islands being battered by wind and rain in recent weeks, only a small proportion of those living on Lesvos have been relocated so far this year.

“This isn’t good enough. This winter it is time for Greece, the EU and every member state to revive or step up their efforts to support people in the Greek island camps, and finally put an end to this needless suffering.”

The IRC began operating in Greece in 2015, and now operates in Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Athens. On Lesvos, the IRC provides water and sanitation services to people living in the camps, as well as child and women protection services through a team of specialized social workers.