Contribution in support of UNHCR's response to the humanitarian situation in Greece with a focus on the Aegean islands
UNHCR’s overall strategic objective in Greece is to ensure protection and life-saving humanitarian assistance to the refugee population with a focus on the situation of the islands.
Under its planned response for 2020 and 2021, and as part of the most pressing and impactful interventions, UNHCR expects the following results in Greece reaching 121,000 refugees and asylum seekers:
- Living conditions are upgraded for refugees and asylum-seekers through shelter and WASH interventions and the distribution of core relief items;
- Child protection services provided to identify and prioritise vulnerable cases, including unaccompanied and separated children and providing care arrangements, such as foster care families, semi-independent housing, or temporary shelters;
- Prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is boosted through personalised case management, legal information and representation, counselling, psychosocial, medical attention and emergency accommodation if necessary, coupled with awareness sessions;
- Non-formal education for refugee and asylum-seeking children in the Aegean islands is promoted by enabling access to safe learning spaces and learning opportunities.
Austria’s contribution of EUR 2,000,000 will help to reach at least 25,500 refugees and asylum seekers living in the Aegean Islands.
Partners include the Government of Greece who leads the refugee response, other United Nations agencies, international and national NGOs, regional and State institutions, municipalities, grassroots organizations, refugee communities and the local society. The activities to be implemented with funding from ADA aim at supporting refugees and migrants having arrived in the Aegean islands, mainly in Lesvos and Samos.
- Upgrading living conditions: improving shelter including seasonal preparation, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) conditions, supporting the Greek Government in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 spread by supporting medical facilities, providing core relief and hygiene items, as well as protective equipment to front-line workers, increase water and sanitation capacity for refugees by providing more toilets and showers, installing functional handwashing stations, portable sinks and laundry stands; providing clean water and undertaking repairs and maintenance - as needed and in coordination with the authorities.
- Protecting children: UNHCR and its partners identify children who are at-risk, including unaccompanied or separated, and support them with legal aid, cultural mediation and psychosocial support.
- Preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV): UNHCR works to prevent, mitigate and respond to SGBV. UNHCR and partners identify survivors, including men and LGBTI persons, as well as people at-risk, offering case management, legal information, counselling, psychosocial, medical attention and emergency accommodation if necessary.
- Delivering non-formal education: UNHCR aims to address the immediate educational needs of school-age asylum-seeking and refugee children on the islands through non-formal education activities.
Greece is currently hosting over 121,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mostly Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi who have arrived in the country since the emergency of 2015-2016. They have experienced difficult and traumatic journeys and face uncertain futures. The population is largely concentrated on mainland Greece where the Government is managing 29 camps for accommodation, but it is in the reception and identification centres at the borders with Turkey where the situation is most difficult. Overcrowding is prevalent on the Greek Aegean islands (namely in Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos) where some 25,500 people reside. Around 10,000 people are crammed in four Reception and Identification Centres (RICs), that only have the capacity and services to accommodate 3,200, while some more 9,200 are temporarily sheltered in the emergency site created following the destructive fires in Moria RIC In Lesvos. The severe congestion on the islands means that thousands of asylum-seekers, including children and people with specific needs are without appropriate accommodation, vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, living in tents or makeshift settlements in unhygienic conditions.