Μore than 160 Greek and international organizations,  academics and other actors from all over Europe urge the Greek authorities to revoke the decision to close dignified alternatives in accommodating refugees οn Lesvos

Athens, 30 September 2020 – We, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, and the local authorities of Lesvos to repeal their decision to terminate the operations of PIKPA and Kara Tepe facilities for vulnerable asylum seekers on the island of Lesvos. The authorities should not only revoke the decision to shut down these facilities, but in this time of great need, they should further strengthen and protect all dignified alternative solutions for asylum seekers’ housing and protection.

In the last five years, PIKPA and Kara Tepe have sheltered vulnerable people escaping from the deplorable living conditions in the Reception and Identification Center (RIC) of Moria, a dangerous place where residents’ health and safety was continuously in jeopardy. The decision to shut down these facilities comes only a few days after a devastating series of blazes burned camp Moria to the ground, leaving more than 12.000 women, men and children with no access to shelter, food and water.

While a new “emergency” camp has been set up on the island, which is currently hosting former residents of Moria camp, many of the signatories present on the ground report significant gaps in protection, access to electricity, water supply and sanitation, safety and security. For as long as the conditions in the RICs are undignified for human beings, alternative responses will be needed, to protect the most vulnerable. PIKPA and Kara Tepe should now, by all means, continue to offer accommodation and protection solutions that are appropriate, especially for the most vulnerable, including unaccompanied and separated children, single mothers, victims of torture and ill treatment, male and female survivors of gender-based and sexual violence, and people with disabilities.

PIKPA, an open, self-organised solidarity space, has provided essential services and assistance to refugees on Lesvos since 2012. In 2016, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), awarded the Nansen Refugee Award to one of the co-founders of PIKPA, in recognition of their work saving lives and providing a safe haven for the most vulnerable during the refugee ‘crisis’ in 2015. Today, PIKPA hosts unaccompanied children, single mothers and persons that have suffered torture or ill treatment, as well as many people with heightened vulnerabilities. Survivors of torture and ill treatment suffer from chronic physical pain for years after their abuse, and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, withdrawal and self-isolation, post traumatic stress, known as PTSD, etc. PIKPA offers a dignified and safe space for the survivors who would otherwise be continuously re-traumatized in an unsafe environment.

Kara Tepe has been run by the municipality with a capacity of more than 1,000 people. It has offered humane living conditions to vulnerable asylum seekers and families that were transferred there from Moria, including single parents, people with disabilities, and many families with health problems. It has been lauded for its infrastructure and community-like atmosphere.

While it is unclear where current residents of PIKPA and Kara Tepe will be transferred, the undersigned are convinced that going to the new “emergency” camp would endanger their physical and mental health and should be avoided at all costs. In addition, PIKPA and Kara Tepe could actually take in and better provide for the individuals who are more “at-risk” currently residing in the new Lesvos RIC. This would be especially important for people with disabilities, for example, as there are no accessible latrines in the new RIC at this time.

We urge Greece’s national and local authorities:

To immediately halt the closure of PIKPA and Kara Tepe and to support and further enhance their outstanding contributions.  At the same time, the authorities should seek solutions in line with human rights standards for the operation of the new temporary camp in Lesvos, pursuing the ultimate goal of its steady decongestion, and providing adequate standards in terms of safety, water, sanitation and medical assistance to all residents, until all are moved to safer and dignified accommodation conditions”.

The signatories:

  1. A Buon Diritto Onlus
  2. ActionAid Hellas
  3. Agir pour la paix
  4. Aid Brigade
  6. Amnesty International
  7. Anders Wachsen
  8. ANTIGONE – Information and Documentation Centre on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence
  9. Are You Syrious (AYS)
  10. ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth
  11. Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucia  (APDHA)
  12. Asociación SINGA España
  13. Association européenne de défense des droits de l’Homme (AEDH)
  14. Babel Day Centre
  15. Basta Violenza alle Frontiere
  16. Be a Robin
  17. Better Days
  18. borderline-europe e.V.
  19. Calais Action Brighton
  20. Casetta Rossa
  21. Catch a Smile asbl
  22. Centre Avec asbl
  23. Centre de formation Bienenberg
  24. Changemakers Lab
  25. Choosehumanity
  26. Chorleywood4Refugees
  27. Christian Peacemaker Teams
  28. Christian Peacemaker Teams Netherlands
  29. Church and Peace
  30. Coexistence and Communication in the Aegean
  31. Collectif de soutien de l’EHESS aux sans-papiers et aux migrant-es
  32. Collectif pour une terre plus humaine
  33. Collective Aid
  34. Comité de Solidarité avec le Peuple Grèce de Lyon
  35. Coordindora de Barrios
  36. CPT – Aegean Migrant Solidarity
  37. CRIBS International
  38. CRID – Centre de recherche et d’information pour le développement
  39. Diotima
  40. Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
  41. Defence for Children International
  42. Defence for Children International – Italy
  43. Defence for Children International – Netherlands
  44. Defence for Children International Greece
  45. Defensa de Niñas y Niños – Internacional , DNI España
  46. Défense des enfants International Belgique
  47. Député Wallon (Belgique)
  48. Destination Unknown campaign
  49. Distribute Aid
  50. Doctors Worldwide
  51. Donate4Refugees
  52. ECHO for Refugees
  53. ECHO100PLUS
  54. Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki
  55. European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies
  56. ELIX – Conservation Volunteers Greece
  57. ENAR – European Network Against Racism
  58. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – rehabilitate Human Dignity
  59. European Women’s Lobby
  60. Everyday, just a smile
  61. Fenix – Humanitarian Legal Aid
  62. Firetree Philanthropy
  63. Firetree Trust
  64. Fondation Danielle Mitterrand
  65. foodKIND
  66. FORGE for humanity
  67. Fresh Response
  68. Friends Of Refugees
  69. German Mennonite Peace Committee
  70. Glocal Roots
  71. Greek Council for Refugees
  72. Greek Helsinki Monitor
  73. Griechenland Solidaritätskomitee Köln
  74. Heimatstern e.V.
  75. Hello My Friend
  76. Help Refugees / Choose Love
  77. Herts for Refugees
  78. HIAS Greece
  79. HIGGS
  80. Hoffnung leben e.V., Bonn, Deutschland
  81. Hope and Aid Direct
  82. HuBB – Humans Before Borders
  83. Human Rights Watch
  84. Humanitas, Centre for Global Education and Cooperation
  85. Humanity Now
  86. HumanRights360
  87. Initiative for an alternative mental health
  88. Initiative for the Detainees’ Rights
  89. InterEuropean Human Aid Association
  90. International Centre for Refugees ICERAS
  91. International Federation of Social Workers, European Region (IFSW Europe)
  92. International Rescue Committee
  94. InterVolve
  95. Iride
  96. Jelscha Dietrich
  97. Jesuit Refugee Service Greece
  98. Khora Community Centre
  99. La Luna Di Vasilika ONLUS
  100. Latitude Adjustment Podcast
  101. Le Paria
  102. Legal Centre Lesvos
  103. Lesvos Solidarity
  104. Love Welcomes
  105. Make Mothers Matter
  106. MAMbrella
  107. Medecins du Monde/ Greece
  108. Medecins Sans Frontieres -Doctors Without Borders -MSF
  109. Medico International
  110. Melissa: Network of Migrant Women in Greece
  111. Mennonite Mission Network
  112. Mennonitisches Friedenszentrum Berlin/Mennonite Peace Center Berlin
  113. Migrant Voice
  114. Migrations Libres
  115. MiGreat
  116. Mαζί/Together/معاً
  117. Network for Children’s Rights
  118. One Family-No Borders
  119. One Happy Family
  121. Open Cultural Center
  122. Organization Earth
  123. Owl’s Watch
  124. Pampiraiki Support Initiative for Refugees & Migrants
  125. Parroquia San Carlos Borromeo
  126. Peaceful Borders
  127. People in motion
  128. Pluspunt Netherlands
  129. Project Armonia
  130. Protestant Association for Conscientious Objectors and Peace (EAK), Germany
  131. Rechtsanwältin
  132. Refugee Aid Network Uk
  133. Refugee Compassion
  134. Refugee Education And Learning International
  135. Refugee Law Clinic Berlin e.V.
  136. Refugee Rescue
  137. Refugee Support Aegean ( R.S.A.)
  138. Refugee Support Europe
  139. Refugee Trauma Initiative
  140. Refugee Youth Service
  141. Refugees International
  142. REFUGYM
  143. RefuNet
  144. Reseau Foi & Justice Afrique Europe Antenne France
  145. Respekt für Griechenland e.V.
  146. Rethinking Refugees – Knowledge and Action
  147. Safe Passage UK
  148. SAO Association for displaced women
  149. Seebruecke Wuppertal
  150. ShowerPower Foundation
  151. Side by Side Refugees
  152. SolidarityNow
  153. Still I Rise
  154. Stop Precarite
  155. Support Art Workers (Greece)
  156. Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece
  157. Terre des hommes Hellas
  158. Thalassa of Solidarity
  159. Vasilika Moon
  160. Velos Youth
  161. Verein FAIR
  162. Voice Of Ezidis
  163. Wiltshire For Refugees
  164. Yoga and Sport For Refugees
  165. Youth for Refugees
  166. Youth organization “Protests”

Also endorsed by:

  • dr. Ilse Derluyn, Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR), Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy
  • Vassilis Pavlopoulos , Associate Professor of Cross-Cultural Psychology – National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Antonello D’Elia, Presidente di Società Italiana di Psichiatria Democratica Onlus
  • Hellen Gerolymatos McDonald, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, MSW, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, School of Social Work, U.S.A (The opinions are Hellen McDonald’s and not those of the University of Illinois)
  • Luciano Rondine, Settore immigrazione e inclusione sociale, Centro di prevenzione psicosociale Nodo Sankara
  • Joanna Kato, chair of Human Rights & Social Responsibility Committee of the European Association for Gestalt Therapy (EAGT)
  • Athina Fragkouli, President of the Board of the Society of Social Psychiatry P. Sakellaropoulos

Cover Photo: Kara Tepe Refugee Camp on Lesbos Island, Greece

© UN Photo/Rick Bajornas