Emergency Operations Unit



Description: Since June 2015, Greece started receiving a significantly increased number of migrants and refugees who entered through the blue borders of the country. Through the establishment of the Emergency Operations Unit, IOM Greece focuses on the Humanitarian Response to the Mediterranean migrant and refugee crisis by providing support in close collaboration with the Greek Government and other agencies. This action is complementary to ongoing programs that IOM Greece implements in partnership with the Greek Government, EU Agencies, EU member states and other countries, and allows for a holistic and coherent approach in response to the migrant and refugee crisis.

IOM Greece Emergency Operations Unit’s activities aim to provide concrete services and support to the population of concern. Beneficiaries include migrants and refugees who are stranded in Greece and reside in formal and informal sites, with a particular focus on Unaccompanied Migrant Children (UMCs) and other vulnerable individuals, such as victims of Trafficking of Human Beings (THB) and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

More specifically, IOM is addressing the exacerbated emergency situation in Greece by rolling out a comprehensive emergency response consisting of the following components: 

  • Site Management Support (SMS):  As the official Site Management Support (SMS) agency in nine sites in Attica, Central Greece and Northern Greece, IOM is providing support to the Government of Greece in camp coordination and management (CCCM). More specifically, through the appointment of IOM Facility Coordinators and Interpreters in each site, IOM assists the Camp Manager with the site’s daily management and organization of activities and services. IOM is also aiming at strengthening the capacities of national authorities through the provision of joint SMS/CCCM trainings for IOM Facility Coordinators and Camp Managers seconded to the Ministry of Migration Policy (MMP).
  • Reconstruction of long-term accommodation sites: With the objective to enhance reception and accommodation standards, IOM refurbishes, upgrades or constructs shelter facilities in five sites located in Attica, Central Greece and Northern Greece. Upon their completion, the sites will operate on a more permanent basis and provide the migrant and refugee population stranded in Greece with a secure sheltering solution.
  • Care and maintenance of accommodation sites: Through continuous needs assessments, IOM implements targeted shelter, WASH, as well as safety and security interventions in order to maintain and/or upgrade living standards and ensure dignified and humane living conditions for migrants and refugees residing in sites throughout Greece.
  • Protection and assistance:  On-site and mobile protection and assistance teams are deployed to provide support and services to beneficiaries in formal and informal sites located in Attica, Northern Greece and on the islands. Their activities include social, psychological and legal counseling, identification and referral of vulnerable migrant and refugee cases to specialized care/administrative services, psychosocial activities as well as information and awareness raising activities on available rights and options, risks of smuggling and THB. As part of the assistance, IOM equally provides in camps where protection teams are present a bus transportation to the closest city, village and to medical appointments.
  • Accommodation for vulnerable cases: In partnership with specialized NGOs that have relevant experience, IOM is supporting the operation of accommodation facilities for UMCs and vulnerable persons. The facilities are located in Athens, Central, Northern and Southern Greece and provide beneficiaries with specialized accommodation and protection and assistance services, which help them overcome trauma and gradually integrate into local communities.
  • Safe zones for UMCs: Targeted interventions for the creation of safe spaces are of high importance for the migrant and refugee children’s psychosocial wellbeing and health. Due to the high demand and the limited capacity in hospitality spaces, IOM in partnership with local NGO operates two safe zones in the sites of Ritsona (Attica) and Kavala (Northern Greece). Through this action, IOM covers the gap in child protection, provides targeted assistance to UMCs until their placement to EKKA designated shelters and mitigates the heightened risks of abuse and/or further harm UMCs face while living in site settlements.
  • Information and Social Inclusion Campaign: In order to support IOM outreach and counselling in centres and sites, IOM will conduct Information sessions and campaign, disseminate information brochures and leaflets, with the parallel use of social media outlets, printed media and awareness raising/information videos (7 videos). Videos/spots will increase awareness on migratory and refugee flows within the Greek society in order to promote co-existence and mutual understanding.
  • Education: In close collaboration with the Ministry of Education Research and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Migration Policy, IOM is contributing to the implementation of the formal education plan for the inclusion of migrant and refugee children into the public education system. In particular, IOM facilitates the transportation of children to/from public primary and secondary schools and provides children of primary and pre-primary school age with school kits, containing the necessary school materials. In order to ensure their safety and security, all children are escorted by IOM specially appointed staff.  

Areas of action:

  • Attica/Central Greece: Malakasa, Oinofyta, Ritsona, Agios Andreas II, Thiva, Athens urban area
  • Northern Greece: Derveni – ALEXIL, Derveni – DION (“Elpida”), Katsikas, Serres, Drama, Kavala, Thessaloniki urban area
  • Islands: Lesvos, Chios, Leros, Kos