The Controlled Facility for Temporary Accommodation of West Lesvos (Megala Therma or Kastelia) is complementary to the CCAC of Lesvos (Mavrovouni). The newcomers arriving within the Municipality of West Lesvos are transferred there. Although it is now officially under the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Reception and Identification Service of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, this structure does not abide by the prescribed registration and identification procedure and the identification of vulnerable cases, nor does it provide for appropriate reception conditions, with residents remaining in isolation from the outside world. The structure is located in a rented space in a remote area and receives people who have just arrived on the island. A deputy commander has recently been appointed there, but there is no administrative staff of the Reception and Identification Service on a 24-hour basis. At the end of 2022, two posts of specialised security personnel were provided for 24/7, as well as one post for general cleaning and disinfection duties, for 14 hours a day. The duration of these services was set on January 1, 2023 and ended on March 31, 2023. For the remaining hours and at a distance from the site, there is Greek Police staff, who cannot, however, de facto, respond to any urgent medical needs.
In this structure there is no medical or nursing staff, despite the fact that it is located more than 50 km from the Lesvos General Hospital “Vostanio” and about 30 km from the Kalloni Health Centre. The National Public Health Organisation Unit visits the structure in order to perform tests for Covid-19 and the Médecins Sans Frontières mobile unit visits the residents twice a week.
This structure was originally intended for a short stay of people. Even today, the necessary material living conditions are not provided, since it is located in a fenced open-air area, within walking distance from the sea and exposed to weather conditions. The individual parts within the structure are separated by barbed wire and people cannot move even within the structure, as the residents do not have the option of exiting the fenced area designated for them. Within each distinct fenced section, there have been placed plastic huts (RHUs/Refugee Housing Units) without beds, where residents reside in overcrowded conditions and without meeting the minimum standards of safe accommodation. There are makeshift faucets/showers/toilets inside the area, while there is insufficient access to basic sanitation. Access to hot water is also extremely limited given the often large number of people living there. Electricity is provided by a generator for a few hours a day, with no provision for heating or cooling.
Newcomers are in fact kept in the structure arbitrarily without any information provided to them, without any relevant decision and without respecting the strict guarantees of legislation on imposing administrative detention or at least the restriction of liberty within the structure applicable during the reception and identification procedure, without initiating reception and identification procedures and without being notified of documents for them to know their legal status. Since November 2022, this informal detention usually takes five days and at least until a Covid-19 test is carried out. The actual time spent there, however, is unspecified and extended when no places are available in the CCAC, a phenomenon which was observed at the end of March in cases supported by RSA. The result is that people are arbitrarily detained without a formal reason, without a legal procedure, for a period which is not counted, albeit should, in the maximum number of 25 days of their ‘restriction of liberty’, as provided for in the Asylum Code.