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Greece Update, Moria Fire Emergency, 16 October 2020

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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is supporting the government-led response after a series of fires destroyed the Reception and Identification Centre in Moria (Lesvos).

UNHCR has scaled up its support for all asylum-seekers affected and urges for comprehensive and humane solutions to address overcrowding on Greek islands.


Leading the response to address the needs of the 12,000 people left homeless overnight after the Moria fires, Greek authorities set up an emergency site within days in Kara Tepe to temporarily shelter affected asylumseekers and refugees. As of 16 October, some 7,700 asylum-seekers remain in the emergency site, while thousands of others have been transferred to the mainland or alternative accommodations based on their special needs.

Although some progress has been made, the emergency response should continue to give way to more sustainable interventions that guarantee dignified living conditions, particularly for those most vulnerable.
UNHCR is especially concerned that the emergency site is not adequately prepared for severe weather, as demonstrated by the recent rains. This is all the more urgent as winter approaches.

UNHCR continues to advocate for comprehensive solutions, calling for continuous European support and responsibility-sharing.


Heavy rains on 8 October exacerbated the situation for residents in the Kara Tepe emergency site. As drainage works were in progress but not yet completed, some tents were flooded. UNHCR conducted protection monitoring visits to assess the situation following the rainfall and prioritised tarpaulins for people whose tents were affected.

Organized transfers to the mainland and alternative accommodations help ease the situation by further reducing the population in the emergency site. Since the aftermath of the fires, some 2,390 people have been transferred out of Lesvos, including 288 to UNHCR ESTIA accommodation apartments on the mainland (as of 12 October). UNHCR has supported this effort with logistics, preparation arrangements and by providing targeted information sessions along with IOM and EASO.

In a positive development, asylum interviews resumed on 8 October.