Urgent assistance needed for asylum seekers in Greece’s Moria refugee camp

November 8, 2018 Europe , HUMAN RIGHTS , News , OPINION/NEWS

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In December 2017 we published an article by John Balouziyeh, who worked with the European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL), a volunteer based legal aid organization that serves refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Middle East and North Africa. John had recently returned from the Moria Refugee Camp in Lesvos, Greece where he assisted refugees in seeking asylum having landed on the shores of Lesvos after fleeing from the most atrocious crimes of the twenty-first century, including genocide, torture, sexual slavery and other war crimes. Today, there are over 8,000 asylum seekers living in the camp designed for 3,000 and help is still urgently needed. The European Lawyers in Lesvos, ELIL have below detailed their appeal for assistance.




As has been widely documented in recent media reports, Moria refugee camp on Lesvos is severely over-crowded, with over 8,000 asylum seekers living in a camp with capacity for only 3,100. Thousands of these people are living in tents, despite the approaching winter. The BBC recently described it as “the worst refugee camp on Earth”.


The vast majority of those living in Moria fled Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq and came to Lesvos in search of safety and protection from war and persecution. More than half of them are women or children, including over 300 unaccompanied minors.


Everyone in Moria must go through a long, complex and ever-changing asylum procedure. This is a legal procedure and, without access to a lawyer, asylum seekers often do not know their rights or understand the process and criteria applied when their asylum applications are assessed. They are therefore significantly disadvantaged when they attend their asylum interview. They may also unnecessarily spend months longer than they should in Moria.


European Lawyers in Lesvos is an independent charity. Our team of Greek asylum lawyers and volunteer European asylum lawyers provide free, independent legal assistance to asylum seekers on Lesvos. Through our work, we seek to ensure that every asylum seeker can exercise their rights.


In the last two years, we have provided free legal assistance to over 8,400 people and we urgently need additional donations to ensure our work can continue.


Our work has a real impact and can change the course of people’s lives: of those we have assisted, 74.5% have been granted asylum, compared to an average of 46.5% in Greece.


We are the largest provider of legal assistance to asylum seekers on Lesvos and the only one that focuses on providing one-on-one legal consultations to prepare asylum seekers for their asylum interview or be reunited with family members elsewhere in Europe.


We have helped over 2,100 people with physical or mental injuries, illness or trauma be recognised as vulnerable, meaning they have been able to leave Moria and move to the Greek mainland. We have also helped over 650 people be recognised as eligible to be reunited with their family members in other European countries.


The need for legal assistance on Lesvos is greater than ever, and growing: there are new arrivals from Turkey almost every day and so far this year, over twice as many asylum seekers have arrived compared to the same period last year.


There is no state-provided legal aid and so the only way an asylum seeker can receive assistance from a lawyer is through an organisation like ours.


With additional funding, it will be possible for more lawyers and interpreters to join the team. This will enable us to help more people – meaning more people will be granted asylum, more people will be reunited with their families and more ill, injured or traumatised individuals will be recognised as vulnerable and able to leave Moria/Lesvos.


As our organisation is volunteer-based, our operational costs are low. A donation of €25 enables our team of practising and experienced European asylum lawyers to provide one-to-one legal assistance to people in need. We are not funded by the EU or the Greek Government.



Please donate and help us protect human rights and uphold the rule of law.





European Lawyers in Lesvos

The European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL) is a charitable, non-profit organisation registered in Germany and Greece. Our team of Greek asylum lawyers and volunteer European asylum lawyers provide independent, free legal assistance to asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesvos.

ELIL was inspired by belief in the fundamental importance of upholding the rule of law, protecting human rights and ensuring meaningful access to legal assistance.

It was founded by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the German Bar Association (DAV) in 2016.

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