Adults and minors refugees and migrants stand behind razor wire at Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos island, Greece, 19 September 2020 | Photo: EPA / VANGELIS PAPANTONIS
Adults and minors refugees and migrants stand behind razor wire at Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos island, Greece, 19 September 2020 | Photo: EPA / VANGELIS PAPANTONIS

A group of over 160 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other humanitarian groups have written an open letter to the Greek authorities to reverse a decision to close two reception centers for migrants and refugees on the island of Lesbos.

Last week Greece's New Democracy government announced that it would be closing the PIKPA and Kara Tepe camps by the end of the year, and would move the people staying there to the new "tent-city" camp which has been erected in the Kara Tepe area.

The two camps, Pikpa, which is an open facility located south of the town of Mytilene, and the municipality-run Kara Tepe (located close to the new, large tent-only camp) facility -- run for families, have been operating for several years, and are home to vulnerable migrants and refugees.

In the open letter, however, the joint appeal from the NGOs describe the two smaller camps as "the only dignified options" for hosting migrants on Lesbos, adding that "both facilities have offered shelter and protection to thousands of migrants over the past five years".

Another concern highlighted is that it still remains unclear where the residents of those two camps will go in the event that they close.

The open letter initiative comes just a week after Lesbos Solidarity, the NGO group at the Pikpa camp, which opened in 2012 offering shelter to families, disabled, and pregnant women, said that they will fight the move to the end, claiming that it is "an attack on refugees", and that "solidarity will win the day."

The NGOs stated that if all of the people currently staying at the two smaller camps are relocated to the new temporary facility which was hastily set up last month after the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp was destroyed by a series of fires "would put their physical and mental health at risk, and must be avoided at all costs."

The signatories of the letter include French medical humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the global human rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, SolidarityNow and ARSIS, among others.

Virtual concert raises money for refugees

In related developments on Lesbos, on Saturday October 3 the #LiveForMoria - A Day of Music for the Refugees went ahead, raising over 5,000 euros to help the immediate needs of the refugees (food, water, clothes, blankets, sanitary items, masks) living at the Kara Tepe camp, now numbered at just over 9,000.

Over 15 singers and bands joined forces for a big on-line concert, a privately organized event set up via the crowdfunding website,

The event's organizers called on everyone to get behind the initiative and donate whatever they could, saying: "Living conditions at the new Kara Tepe camp remain unacceptable, with up to 100 people packed in each of tents that were put up on rocky terrain, just a few meters from the sea.

According to several reports, there is a severe lack of food, running water, electricity and chemical toilets. At the same time, dozens of new COVID-19 cases are confirmed every day among the refugees, since the essential protection measures are not being implemented."

All donations will be going to Attika Human Support, is a Lesbos-based organization that collects essentials for the refugees. All artists, technicians and production assistants offered their help voluntarily.

The list of artists who performed on the day, in alphabetical order, were: Behind 12 Bars, Dimitris Verionis, Esterina, Female Actresses Group, JazzMatazz, Idra Kayne, Maria Kilaidoni, Lazytrains, Costas Lemonidis, Leonidas Marantis, MC Yinka & The Fuzics, Mood Swings, Picos Apicos & The Pina Coladas, Nikolas Piperas, Project UnCut, Sugahspank! & The Swing Shoes, Vicky Bee Band.


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