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I am writing to express profound concern about the decision to close the open and self-organized refugee shelter PIKPA, on the island of Lesvos, and to terminate its operations by 15 October.
Thanks to the work of its staff and volunteers, since 2012, PIKPA has hosted and assisted thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers among the most vulnerable, providing them with a safe shelter. Since 2015, PIKPA has offered people an alternative to living in Moria camp, where conditions were overcrowded and inhumane.
Following the devastating series of fires that destroyed Moria camp, refugees and asylum-seekers in Lesvos have been transferred to a temporary camp, recently established on the island. This camp, however, only offers a temporary solution, does not provide adequate living conditions for its residents nor adequate safeguards to those in vulnerable situations.
PIKPA currently hosts around 100 vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees, including 21 unaccompanied children, and there is no clear indication about their fate should the shelter be closed. Their transfer to the temporary camp in Lesvos would expose them to risks. As asylum-seekers and refugees in Lesvos and other islands live in squalid conditions, the support of NGOs is crucial. Instead of restricting NGOs’ ability to operate, the Greek Government should support their actions, protecting and promoting open and safe spaces for asylum-seekers and refugees in Greece.
I urge you to ensure the decision to close PIKPA camp is revoked, to protect its residents and create the conditions for NGOs and humanitarian actors to continue providing essential services to asylum-seekers and refugees.