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MORIA FIRES: European Governments must urgently relocate displaced individuals from Greece


MORIA FIRES: European Governments must urgently relocate displaced individuals from Greece


Urgent Call to Action from Civil Society Organisations across Europe

Over the past days devastating fires[i] burnt down the Moria Registration and Identification Center and surrounding areas, the EU Hotspot on the Greek island Lesvos. The fires have left thousands of vulnerable individuals homeless and traumatised,[ii] among them over 4,000 children.[iii]

The undersigned organisations reiterate their call on the governments of EU Member States, with support from the European Commission,[iv] to urgently relocate displaced individuals from Greece.

While we are shocked and saddened at these developments, they come as no surprise. Lesvos and the other EU Hotspots[v] on the Aegean islands have reached breaking point long ago.[vi] Moria camp is currently hosting roughly 12-13,000 displaced individuals, with an official capacity of only 2,800. These severely overcrowded camps are characterised by squalid living conditions and a severe lack of adequate sanitation or hygiene facilities, even amid the heightened health risks due to Covid-19.[vii] The situation in the other Greek Hotspots is similarly untenable and repeated warnings[viii] have remained unanswered for over four years.

Relocation urgently needed

We welcome the transfer of 406 unaccompanied children from Lesvos to the Greek mainland, with financial support from the European Commission.[ix] This demonstrates how swiftly transfers can be co-ordinated when the political will exists. We commend the Norwegian and Dutch governments’ commitments to relocating 50[x] and 100[xi] individuals respectively, as well as the French and German governments’ willingness to transfer 400 children.[xii] We urge further European governments to follow with concrete commitments and action without delay. The positive example set by relocations carried out by the coalition of willing Member States since March 2020[xiii] shows that relocations can be carried out safely and successfully for everyone involved. Member States, EU institutions, relevant EU and UN agencies with support from civil society should now share experiences, expertise and resources to ensure further states join the coalition. The undersigned organisations stand ready to support these efforts, to bring the men, women and children stranded in Greece to safety, and thereby uphold our European values of human rights and human dignity.

The EU Hotspots as an EU Migration Management Approach

The latest events prove once again the failure of the Hotspots as the default EU migration management approach. We call on the European Parliament to investigate the role that the EU and Member States played in the failed management of Moria. Moreover, we urge the European Commission, the German EU Council Presidency and Member States to treat the horrifying images of Moria burning as unequivocal proof of the tragic human cost[xiv] of an EU asylum and migration system based on containment and deterrence policies. We strongly recommend the European Commission to take these events into account with a view to the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, and ensure the same policies do not inform the extremely concerning proposals for ‘processing centres’ at EU borders. It is vital that the New Pact is taken as an opportunity to present a new start rather than a replication of past errors.

Signed by:

Action Aid Hellas (Faces of Migration partner) Ambrela Slovakia (Faces of Migration partner) ASGI

BPID Bulgaria (Faces of Migration partner) Caritas Europa

Caritas Hellas Caritas Slovakia

Češi Pomáhají (Czech Republic) Child Circle

Consortium of Migrants Assissting NGOs (Czech Republic) COSPE Onlus

Danish Refugee Council (DRC) Defence for Children International

Defence for Children International – Belgium Defence for Children International - Greece Defence for Children International – Italia Destination Unknown

Diaconia ECCB (Faces of Migration partner) Diakonie Austria

Dutch Council for Refugees

Dynamo International – Street Workers Network Echo100Plus

Eurochild Eurodiaconia Europe Must Act

European Lawyers in Lesvos European Network on Statelessness Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid

FOCSIV - Italian Federation of Christian NGOs Italy (Faces of Migration partner) GCAP Belgium (Faces of Migration partner)

Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) Europe Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)

Help Refugees

Human Rights League Slovakia ICMC Europe

Immigrant Council of Ireland

International Child Development Initiatives (NL) International Rescue Committee (IRC) INTERSOS

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Kopin

Lighthouse Relief (LHR) LUMOS Foundation Mareena Country Slovakia

Médecins du Monde Belgique Médecins du Monde – France Minority Rights Group International Missing Children Europe

Mokosha NGO Centre

Movimento per l'Autosviluppo, l'Interscambio e la Solidarietà (MAIS) (Italy)

Nadácia Milana Šimečku (Slovakia)

Network for Children’s Rights One Happy Family Lesvos ONGD Plataforma Portoguesa

Organization Mondiale pour l'Éducation Préscolaire/ World Organization for Early Childhood Education

Oxfam PAX

Pax Christi Vlaanderen PICUM

Plate-Forme Mineurs en Exil - Platform Kinderen op de Vlucht Povod Slovenia (Faces of Migration partner)

Refugee Legal Support (RLS) Refugee Youth Service

Slovak Humanitarian Council PRAKIS Solidarity Now

SOS Villages Greece Still I Rise

Terre des Hommes Hellas

Terre des Hommes International Federation Velos Youth

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen Women’s Refugee Commission



[i] Al Jazeera, 9 September 2020

[ii] CNN, 9 September 2020

[iii] UNCHR and Council of Europe, 9 September 2020

[iv] Together with relevant EU and UN agencies and in cooperation with civil society organisations.

[v] UNHCR, 31 August 2018

[vi] Amnesty International, 6 December 2018 ; see also: Call to Action by Civil society organisations, March 2020

[vii] MSF, 30 July 2020

[viii HRW, 19 March 2016

[ix] Ekathimerini, 9 September 2020

[x] Dpa-international, 9 September 2020

[xi] NLTimes.NL, 11 September 2020

[xii] France 24, 10 Septembre 2020

[xiii] European Commission, 15 April 2020; PubAffairsBruxelles, 8 July 2020

[xiv] MSF, 11 March 2020