Let us talk about Lesvos – New large influxes report

Over the past two months, the influxes in Lesvos Island have risen significantly compared to previous months’ numbers. Together with the inflows, the concerns of the field workers have also been increased since the current shelter provision reached capacity.

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In December 2022, 469 new people arrived in the island. The average daily arrivals were 17 persons, almost three and a half times higher than in November 2021, when the average everyday arrivals were five persons. According to the statistics provided to the field actors during the interagency meetings, the population is from Afghanistan (37%), Somalia (22%), Eritrea (8%), Sudan (8%), Ethiopia(5%), and 21% from other countries of origin. Women account for 28% of the population, and children for 22%. Among the general new people, there are approximately 100 unaccompanied minors, who are not living in a separate area, as there is no such possibility.

The new arrivals are placed in Kara Tepe camp and Megala Therma Camp in Northern Lesvos. Both facilities have reached their capacity, and the population’s living conditions have become challenging.

In Kara Tepe Camp, there were rearrangements so that some areas could be used for the reception of the new arrivals, where the people will remain until they pass the registration process and be transferred to the areas where the general population lives. More specifically, the designated quarantine area is now extended as an emergency shelter. In addition, two already existing rub halls which were for a long time not used, are used again. Due to the massive increase in the camp’s population and the no housing capacity, there are many cases where two families are now sharing the one-room containers.

Many other obstacles are also observed with the difficulties of housing the new figures. As generators power the camp, there are daily power outages from 9 am. to 1 pm. Furthermore, most of the day, there is no hot water in the commonly used shower and toilet facilities.

With regards to NFI provision, there is a lack of clothes. Further, if this situation prevails, there is the risk of other non-food items, such as blankets and mattresses running out as well. Regarding food provision, the authorities have managed to respond accordingly to the numbers; However, there were many complaints from the people about the quality of the food.

Finally, skin diseases have also risen as there are no clothes, hot water and proper distance maintenance capacity provision. Further, it should be noted that Kara Tepe camp is placed by the sea, exposing people to weather phenomena and cold as well. The different medical conditions, flu, colds and Covid-19 cases cannot be properly assisted due to lack of medical staff, medicines and appropriate support area for such cases.

With regards to Megala Therma, the situation is more precarious. Besides the abovementioned issues which are witnessed there are also reports of people having to sleep on the ground due to no bed capacity; there are outages for significant parts of the day; the food distribution is taking place once per day, meaning that people who arrive after that time can get food only the following day.

There is a significant need for proper shelter, food and medical provision for the people who have just arrived in Lesvos. The different actors operating on the ground are concerned with the current situation in Lesvos Island but also worried about the near future. Not only are basic living standards conditions no longer met, but there is also the concern that if the situation remains as such, people’s living conditions will be out of control.