"Things have improved on Lesvos compared to last year”

Danish Refugee Council's International Director, Ann Mary Olsen, visited Lesvos and the Moria registration site last week. She has witnessed how the situation has significantly improved compared to last time she was on Lesvos in September, 2015.

When arriving at the Moria site on Lesvos this Wednesday morning, it was clear that many refugees and migrants had arrived during the night and morning. There are many people already at the entrance, and people are queuing up for their registration while information is coming out of the speakers in different languages.

"In the morning, almost 1,000 people have been picked up by the Greek coastguard and brought to Moria – which also is a clear improvement, since the last time I was here, when people were arriving to the shores in rubber boats and often had to walk all the way to the site. It is clear that the Greek authorities, with support of organizations such as the Danish Refugee Council, have improved the conditions vastly here in Moria. Last time I was here, waste, food scraps and used clothing were floating around, but now the site is neat and clean, and services are available around the clock. These vulnerable refugees and migrants now have much better reception facilities, which is very positive when you consider what they have been through," says Ann Mary Olsen, who has been on Lesvos this week, following DRC's work.

The Danish Refugee Council has been working in Moria since December 2015 and has a 24/7 presence on the site. Some of the DRC staff, Mrs. Ann Mary Olsen met, were very tired because many people had arrived during the morning.

"Our work is very much about protection of vulnerable refugees with special needs, specially women, children and the elderly. DRC is in charge of accommodating people into the housing units and dormitories that are available. It is about ensuring that families with small children can get a safe place to sleep - and as far as possible ensure that everyone gets a decent place to sleep. Additionally, we are part of distributing hot meals and are responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the accommodation areas. As it stands right now, people are only a short time in Moria; maybe a day or two - and every day the rooms need to be cleaned and readied for people that continue arriving. However, not all of them spend the night as they can sometimes reach Athens that same evening by ferry. I've even seen people being brought ashore by the Greek coast guard in the morning - and then I saw the ferry to Athens, who took off the same night," says Ann Mary Olsen. It is also part of DRC’s responsibilities in Moria to support the Greek authorities in managing the population flow through adequate communication, so as to ensure registration can be done without unnecessary delays.

There are still many volunteers on Lesvos and in the Moria site, and to ensure the best use of their abilities and willingness to help, the Danish Refugee Council are coordinating the work of some of the volunteer groups that are present inside Moria – through a dedicated volunteer coordinator.

"I have talked with voluntary groups that were really pleased that DRC has taken on the role of coordinating them and helping ensure that their well-meaning presence makes sense - even now, when the situation in Moria is improving day by day. We have a work schedule for the volunteers and are providing basic trainings, so they have a better insight into how the humanitarian work is being done, what information they can give to the people who arrive and that together we can ensure he volunteers help in the best possible way. It's great to see that many volunteers have registered and are involved in this work," says Ann Mary Olsen

Danish Refugee Council has worked in Greece since mid-December 2015 to support the Greek authorities in ensuring dignified reception conditions in Moria site, through adequate, accessible and coordinated provision of services. The Danish Refugee Council’s humanitarian work is done in close collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Migration Policy.