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Μore than 160 Greek and international organizations, academics and other actors from all over Europe urge the Greek authorities to revoke 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:

A Buon Diritto Onlus

ActionAid Hellas

Agir pour la paix

Aid Brigade


Amnesty International

Anders Wachsen

ANTIGONE – Information and Documentation Centre on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence

Are You Syrious (AYS)

ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth

Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucia (APDHA)

Asociación SINGA España

Association européenne de défense des droits de l’Homme (AEDH)

Babel Day Centre

Basta Violenza alle Frontiere

Be a Robin

Better Days

borderline-europe e.V.

Calais Action Brighton

Casetta Rossa

Catch a Smile asbl

Centre Avec asbl

Centre de formation Bienenberg

Changemakers Lab



Christian Peacemaker Teams

Christian Peacemaker Teams Netherlands

Church and Peace

Coexistence and Communication in the Aegean

Collectif de soutien de l’EHESS aux sans-papiers et aux migrant-es

Collectif pour une terre plus humaine

Collective Aid

Comité de Solidarité avec le Peuple Grèce de Lyon

Coordindora de Barrios

CPT – Aegean Migrant Solidarity

CRIBS International

CRID – Centre de recherche et d’information pour le développement


Danish Refugee Council (DRC)

Defence for Children International

Defence for Children International – Italy

Defence for Children International – Netherlands

Defence for Children International Greece

Defensa de Niñas y Niños – Internacional , DNI España

Défense des enfants International Belgique

Député Wallon (Belgique)

Destination Unknown campaign

Distribute Aid

Doctors Worldwide


ECHO for Refugees


Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki

European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies

ELIX – Conservation Volunteers Greece

ENAR – European Network Against Racism

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – rehabilitate Human Dignity

European Women’s Lobby

Everyday, just a smile

Fenix – Humanitarian Legal Aid

Firetree Philanthropy

Firetree Trust

Fondation Danielle Mitterrand


FORGE for humanity

Fresh Response

Friends Of Refugees

German Mennonite Peace Committee

Glocal Roots

Greek Council for Refugees

Greek Helsinki Monitor

Griechenland Solidaritätskomitee Köln

Heimatstern e.V.

Hello My Friend

Help Refugees / Choose Love

Herts for Refugees

HIAS Greece


Hoffnung leben e.V., Bonn, Deutschland

Hope and Aid Direct

HuBB – Humans Before Borders

Human Rights Watch

Humanitas, Centre for Global Education and Cooperation

Humanity Now


Initiative for an alternative mental health

Initiative for the Detainees’ Rights

InterEuropean Human Aid Association

International Centre for Refugees ICERAS

International Federation of Social Workers, European Region (IFSW Europe)

International Rescue Committee




Jelscha Dietrich

Jesuit Refugee Service Greece

Khora Community Centre

La Luna Di Vasilika ONLUS

Latitude Adjustment Podcast

Le Paria

Legal Centre Lesvos

Lesvos Solidarity

Love Welcomes

Make Mothers Matter


Medecins du Monde/ Greece

Medecins Sans Frontieres -Doctors Without Borders -MSF

Medico International

Melissa: Network of Migrant Women in Greece

Mennonite Mission Network

Mennonitisches Friedenszentrum Berlin/Mennonite Peace Center Berlin

Migrant Voice

Migrations Libres



Network for Children’s Rights

One Family-No Borders

One Happy Family


Open Cultural Center

Organization Earth

Owl’s Watch

Pampiraiki Support Initiative for Refugees & Migrants

Parroquia San Carlos Borromeo

Peaceful Borders

People in motion

Pluspunt Netherlands

Project Armonia

Protestant Association for Conscientious Objectors and Peace (EAK), Germany


Refugee Aid Network Uk

Refugee Compassion

Refugee Education And Learning International

Refugee Law Clinic Berlin e.V.

Refugee Rescue

Refugee Support Aegean ( R.S.A.)

Refugee Support Europe

Refugee Trauma Initiative

Refugee Youth Service

Refugees International



Reseau Foi & Justice Afrique Europe Antenne France

Respekt für Griechenland e.V.

Rethinking Refugees – Knowledge and Action

Safe Passage UK

SAO Association for displaced women

Seebruecke Wuppertal

ShowerPower Foundation

Side by Side Refugees


Still I Rise

Stop Precarite

Support Art Workers (Greece)

Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece

Terre des hommes Hellas

Thalassa of Solidarity

Vasilika Moon

Velos Youth

Verein FAIR

Voice Of Ezidis

Wiltshire For Refugees

Yoga and Sport For Refugees

Youth for Refugees

Youth organization “Protests”

Also endorsed by:

  • Prof. 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
  • Dr. 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

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