Refugees on the Aegean Islands

Pikpa is an open refugee camp in Mytilini, Lesvos, Greece. This camp is formed by a collective of individuals that include volunteers and residents in addition to groups and organisations who contribute. An example of an organisation who contributes would be Lesvos Solidarity. The camp has been providing humanitarian support since 2012. Supporting vulnerable refugees, families with children, pregnant women, refugees with disabilities, refugees who suffer from serious medical conditions and victims of shipwrecks who have lost loved ones at sea. 

Lesvos Solidarity

Lesvos Solidarity which operates in Pikpa camp has successfully offered assistance with medical care, psychosocial support and legal support. In addition to food, clothes, and hygiene kits. Children in Pikpa camp are encouraged to attend language classes and social support.

To foster solidarity and understanding particular programs have been developed for refugees and their host communities. The integration and educational programs resulted in the creation of the support center known as Mosaik in the center of Mytilini, Lesvos.



A place where language and art classes are offered, as well as workshops developing the vocational skills of both refugees and locals. In addition to the Workshop Safe Passage-Bag. This integration and educational program bring people together to work on an upcycling project. Lifejackets from the shorelines of Lesvos, that were used by refugees crossing the Aegean Sea are transformed into bags. Refugees and their local community work together to create these products that are sold online here


The origins of Pikpa started with a group of ordinary people coming together during the Greek economic crisis. In response to the arrival of refugees that started to arrive on the Island, they extended their sense of community to support people in need. The abandoned children’s summer camp on the site of Pipka became the first open, community-run refugee camp in Greece. Since 2012, over 30,000 refugees have been hosted, without financial support from the state, the European Union or UNHCR.

Refugees on the Aegean islands

Through to July 15th, 2018, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, ‘reports that 50,872 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea’. ReliefWeb Arrivals to Greece so far in 2018 are ‘running almost 5,000 ahead of last year’s totals on this date, an increase of better than 50 percent’. Relief Web

 Médecins Sans Frontières recently highlighted the cramped and unhygienic conditions at the islands largest camp, that are challenging people’s mental health. A camp where there are ‘8,000 people crammed into space for 3,000 in Moria’. ReliefWeb In response to the confinement, and recent violence and chaos in Moria refugee camp, the

MSF insist on an end to policies of containment, and call on the EU and state authorities to step up access to healthcare and security for those in the camp. The deterrence policy of the EU Turkey deal is not an effective one; people will continue to flee war and terror in order to survive. Trapping these people in awful and unsafe conditions is simply further traumatising an already extremely vulnerable population.’ Médecins Sans Frontières  

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees suggests that the majority of the population on the Aegean islands are from Syria (30%), Iraq (24%) and Afghanistan (16%). In addition to women accounting for 21% of the population and children by 31%. Most children are younger than 12 years of age. It is estimated that 13% of the children are unaccompanied or separated from their families. 

Pikpa refugee camp under threat of closure

On July 12th, 2018 Amnesty International shared the campaign. Save Pikpa: refugee solidarity camp on Lesvos at imminent risk of closure.

Highlighting ‘the move to shut down the PIKPA camp is yet another example of how authorities in Europe are taking steps to crack down on organisations and individuals assisting refugees and asylum-seekers. If the PIKPA camp is shut down, hundreds of vulnerable refugees would find themselves without a shelter and much needed support.’ Amnesty  



Lesvos Solidarity has created numerous social media campaigns to save Pikpa-  Link

Read more:

Amnesty International

Lesvos Solidarity

UNHCR Mediterranean situation

Médecins Sans Frontières on Greece: Confinement, violence, and chaos in Moria refugee camp

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