What are the next steps in establishing the new reception facility on Lesvos?
With the funding agreement for the construction of the new centre, the Commission has provided clarity on the financing. The European Commission and the Ministry of Migration and Asylum will proceed with the finalisation and signature of the grant agreement, which includes the description of the plan, the estimated budget and the conditions linked to interim payments and the progress of the works.
In parallel, the Greek authorities are obtaining the necessary permits to allow for construction, as well as finalising the technical designs for the future centre so that the procurement process to contract the construction works can start quickly. In this design process, EASO technical experts are associated.
Is the Commission supporting new reception facilities on other Greek islands?
In December 2020, the Commission signed a grant agreement with the Greek authorities for the construction of 3 new reception centres on the Greek islands of Samos, Kos and Leros. These new facilities will include i) reception facilities, ii) safe zones for unaccompanied children and teenagers and other vulnerable people, iii) facilities for procedures after initial arrivals and required administrative areas, iv) facilities needed to guarantee access to services, v) common and recreational areas and vi) pre-removal centres. The EU funding amounts to €121 million.
In addition to the fresh award for the new facilities in Lesvos, the Commission has also awarded funding to build a new centre in Chios.
How did the EU respond to the emergency situation in Lesvos following the fires?
After the fire in the Moria camp in September 2020, the Commission provided immediate support to assist the Greek authorities to ensure that the 12,362 people left without shelter would be accommodated as a matter of priority.
The Commission supported the rapid transfer and accommodation of 406 unaccompanied children and teenagers from Lesvos to the mainland of Greece. The Commission also provided exceptional financial assistance payment to support people affected by the fires and funded the use of two ferryboats to transport beneficiaries of international protection to the mainland. Greece also requested help through the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism and over 170,000 items were supplied by Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK.
What is the current state of play in the temporary camp in Lesvos?
The temporary camp currently hosts approximately 6,650 people and an upgrading plan has been put in place by the Commission, the Greek authorities and the organisations working on the ground. To this end, on 19 November 2020, the Commission awarded an initial €5 million grant agreement to finance the necessary works for gravelling, drainage and electricity in the temporary site. Since then, comprehensive building works have taken place and are still ongoing, area by area.
Full water, sanitation and hygiene facilities have been in place since the beginning of the camp, with water coming from tanks. These facilities are also upgraded as part of the ongoing improvement works. The project to connect the camp to the local sewage and water grids is led by UNICEF and Red Cross and funded by the Commission (€8 million).
While the final plans foresee the necessary spaces and facilities for education, leisure activities and sports, these can only be implemented once the building works are finalised in each area. In the meantime, a number of initiatives are providing non-formal education to children and social care activities in the camp. The Commission, together with international actors, is in discussions with the Greek authorities to provide more spaces for such activities.
What expert support is the EU providing in Lesvos?
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) currently deploys 900 staff in Greece. An additional call for experts was issued in October 2020 to improve the temporary facilities and prepare for the new reception facilities. An expert group composed of engineers from Greece, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and EASO conducted a technical mission to assess the suitability of various locations for the new reception facilities on the island. Scientific experts of the Hellenic Survey of Geology & Mineral Exploration have analysed soil samples of the site for the new centre.
EASO is also supporting the deployment of civil engineers and architects that are helping site planning, improve the conditions in the temporary site and support the design of the new facilities.
What is the Commission doing to protect unaccompanied children and vulnerable people?
In order to ensure the protection of unaccompanied children and teenagers in Greece, a relocation scheme from Greece to participating Member States is organised by the Greek authorities in coordination by the Commission with the support of EASO, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR. In addition to its coordinating role, the Commission supports this relocation scheme financially.
Following the destruction of the Moria camp, Member States and associated countries pledged to relocate more unaccompanied children and teenagers, beneficiaries of international protection and vulnerable asylum seekers from Lesvos and Greece.
The Commission recently doubled its financial support to match the increased number of pledges, bringing the overall contribution to about €30 million and extending the project until the end of April 2021. To date, over 3,500 people were relocated 13 Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Slovenia, Netherlands and Italy) and 3 associated countries (Norway, Switzerland and Iceland).
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