CamCRAG trustee Ed Sexton is volunteering on Lesvos for the autumn and winter of 2020/21.
Conditions on Lesvos continue to be difficult, both for refugees in the new camp hastily erected following the destruction of the camp at Moria, and for the NGOs attempting to organise new processes to serve them.
The Greek government has transferred about 2000 people to the mainland, mostly women, children, families and those in vulnerable groups, which is to be welcomed. However, many of these transfers will be housed in hotels or other accommodation where refugees were living, displacing those residents to unknown destinations. NGOs fear that many will end up on the streets of Athens or other Greek cities. Without an organised EU programme of resettlement, the future for all refugees in Greece remains uncertain.
The transfers, along with the significant number of refugees who vanished after the Moria fire (many probably making it to the mainland on ferries in the chaos that followed), has reduced the new camp population to around 7,600. Conditions, however, remain dire, with most people housed in flimsy UNHCR tents, no mains electricity, water, showers or other basic amenities.
We were hit by the first storm of the season last week, with heavy rain, and many tents were instantly flooded, ruining what few possessions those people had. NGOs assisted with emergency tents, tarpaulins to provide extra rain cover, and raised flooring, but the camp is on the coast and very exposed to northerly winds and winter storms. More rain is forecast in the coming days.
The generous response of CamCRAG supporters will allow us to provide funds to those NGOs during the months ahead, and help the refugees on Lesvos get through what will be a difficult winter.