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Regional Bureau for Europe: Greece Update # 10 Lesvos (20 November 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) on 8-10 September. UNHCR has scaled up its support for all asylum-seekers affected and urges for comprehensive and humane solutions to address overcrowding on Greek islands.


Two months after fires swept through the Moria Reception and Identification Centre, nearly 7,300 asylum-seekers and refugees are sheltered in the Mavrovouni site, which was swiftly set up to host those affected. The fires had left some 12,000 people homeless, of which many were transferred to other accommodations.

The Greek authorities led the response with the support of UN agencies, including UNHCR, as well as international and national NGOs and volunteer groups.

In addition to the planned technical interventions to improve living conditions in Mavrovouni, UNHCR continues to call for comprehensive solutions and European support and responsibility-sharing.


Greece entered a country-wide lockdown on 7 November with movement allowed by self-attestation for essential reasons only. In compliance with the measures, asylumseekers and refugees are also allowed to move in and out of the Mavrovouni site for essential reasons only, by self-attestation. UNHCR worked with authorities to ensure that site residents are duly informed through text message, direct messages via loudspeakers, as well as through refugee outreach volunteers that communicate the requirements of the new measures directly to their communities. UNHCR also liaised with food distribution actors to disseminate written messages along with the food packages.

Organized transfers from Lesvos to the mainland continue, freeing up much needed space in the site. Since the fires, at least 2,900 people have been moved out of the island, as of 18 November. Of those, 479 moved into ESTIA apartments with UNHCR support.