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Migration and Home Affairs

Construction of new reception centres

Current state of play in the temporary camp in Lesvos

After the fire in Moria camp in September 2020, 12,362 people were left without shelter. The Commission, together with several partners, provided immediate support to assist the Greek authorities in providing shelter as quickly as possible.  

The Commission, Greek authorities and humanitarian organisations are since working on the ground to upgrade the current temporary camp Mavrovouni until a new, up-to-standard reception centre on the island is ready. 

The Commission awarded an initial €5 million grant agreement to finance the necessary works in the temporary camp for the comprehensive upgrade of installations and infrastructure: 

  • landscaping, excavations and backlifting
  • gravelling 
  • drainage, and  
  • electricity (installation of pillars, cable channels, etc.)

Since then, comprehensive building works have taken place and are still ongoing, area by area.

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Works on the sewage system for the temporary centre on Lesvos, April 2021

Works on the new sewage system for the temporary facility on Lesvos

Water and sanitation

Right now, the camp operates with full water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, with water coming from tanks, both hot and cold. These facilities are being upgraded as part of the ongoing improvement works. A proper water, sewage and electricity grid is currently being built and will be connected to local grids.  

The project to build the internal network and to connect the camp to local sewage and water grids is led by UNICEF and Red Cross. This construction project is funded by the Commission at the amount of €8 million. 

Education, leisure and sport facilities

Due to the building works, the camp is constantly changing and remains a work in progress. Still, sports courts have been installed providing camp residents with some facilities to exercise.

A number of initiatives are also providing non-formal education to children and social care activities in the camp. The Commission, together with international actors, is in discussions with the Greek authorities to provide more spaces for such activities; while formal education will take place outside the camp in the regular school system.  

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New basketball and soccer courts in the temporary facility on Lesvos

Once the initial building works are finalised, works will continue to construct further facilities for non-formal education, leisure and sport activities.

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Space for non-formal education at the temporary facility on Lesvos

Steps in establishing the new reception centre on Lesvos

The Commission’s priority is to establish an up-to-standard reception centre on Lesvos where people can be received in dignity and fast, effective procedures can be applied to decide if they have the right to stay in Europe or if they have to return.

Choosing the new centre location

In 2020, efforts have focused on identifying an appropriate location for the new reception centre, holding roundtable meetings with the local representatives to restore trust and find a good way forward.  

The local communities on the Aegean islands have shouldered an important responsibility by hosting arrivals at the EU external borders. The new site allows for a sustainable solution, where migration is managed, and the conditions are better both for the migrants arriving on Lesvos and for the local community hosting them.

Soil testing and start of construction

In November 2020, scientific experts of the Hellenic Survey of Geology and Mineral Exploration have analysed soil samples of the site for the new centre. The experts issued a report of the soil testing, confirming the safety of the location. 

Together with partnering EU agencies, the Task Force has further supported the Greek Authorities in defining the draft designs of the new centre on Lesvos to make sure they are up to standard and fit for purpose. In April 2021, a grant agreement of €155 million was signed for the construction of the new reception centre in Lesvos and one in Chios, providing clarity on the financing of the project.  

In parallel, the Greek authorities have obtained the necessary permits to allow for construction and the procurement process is ongoing to contract the construction works. 

Reception facilities on other Greek islands

In December 2020, the Commission signed a grant agreement with the Greek authorities for the construction of 3 reception centres on the Greek islands of Samos, Kos and Leros.

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The beginning of constructions works for the new reception centre on Samos

These new facilities will include:

  • reception facilities
  • safe zones for unaccompanied children, teenagers and other vulnerable people
  • facilities for procedures after initial arrivals and required administrative areas
  • facilities needed to guarantee access to services
  • leisure and recreational areas
  • pre-removal centres

The EU funding amounts to €121 million. More information on the grant can be found on the webpage:

In addition to the fresh award for the new facilities in Lesvos, the Commission has also awarded funding to build a new centre in Chios.

Construction in Samos, Kos and Leros is in full swing, with buildings going up at a regular pace. Building is expected to be completed in summer 2021.