Giorgos Moutafis for SolidarityNow

After the catastrophic fire in Moria which left thousands of refugees homeless and unprotected, the relocation of people to safety is now more urgent than ever.  SolidarityNow, together with other organisations, calls on the governments of EU Member States, to urgently relocate displaced individuals from Greece to their territory. The recent relocation of unaccompanied children from the Greekisland hotspots to other countries shows that there where there is a will there is a way.

Read our statement below:

Urgent Call to Action from Civil Society Organisations across Europe

 MORIA FIRES: European Governments must urgently relocate displaced individuals

from Greece

Over the past days devastating fires 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, among them over 4,000

children.  The undersigned organisations reiterate their call on the governments of EU Member

States, with support from the European Commission, 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 on the Aegean islands have reached breaking point long

ago. 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 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.

This demonstrates how swiftly transfers can be co-ordinated when the political will exists. We commend the Norwegian and Dutch governments’ commitments to relocating 50x and 100 individuals respectively, as well as the French and German governments’ willingness to transfer 400 children. 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 2020xiii 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 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
  • Better Days
  • 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
  • Defence for Children – The Netherlands
  • 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)
  • Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) (Faces of Migration partner)
  • 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)
  • 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 (Greece)
  • One Happy Family Lesvos
  • Organization Mondiale pour l’Éducation Préscolaire/ World Organization for Early Childhood
  • Education
  • Oxfam
  • PAX
  • Pax Christi Vlaanderen
  • Plate-Forme Mineurs en Exil – Platform Kinderen op de Vlucht
  • Plataforma Portuguesa das ONGD – Portuguese NGDO Platform
  • Povod Slovenia (Faces of Migration partner)
  • Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
  • Refugee Rights Europe
  • 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