On Global Handwashing Day, UNICEF and the EU ensure access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities for families, children and the general population of the temporary Reception and Identification Centre in Lesvo

19 October 2021

ATHENS/BRUSSELS - 15 October 2021 – Access to safe water and sanitation is a human right. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners, with support from the European Commission, have ensured access to appropriate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services supporting more than 10,000 refugee and migrant children and adults since January 2021 in the Mavrovouni temporary Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) on the Greek island of Lesvos.

Following the devastating fire in Moria in September 2020, more than 12,000 refugees and migrants (including children) were displaced. UNICEF, in collaboration with the Greek State Authorities, the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), many local actors, and with funding provided by the EU, has managed the construction, operationalization and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities in the temporary site in Mavrovouni, as well as the provision of hygiene services for refugee and migrant children and adults residing on the site.

The programme was rolled out in different stages, building on the initial emergency WASH intervention by the German Red Cross and Swiss Humanitarian Aid, and gradually transitioning to more sustainable solutions based on government guidelines and EASO standards, ensuring access to water and sanitation in a safe and dignified environment.

More specifically, UNICEF and partners, such as Watershed and Movement on the Ground, have worked to ensure the:

  • Construction and operationalization of a sewage network for the site;
  • Access to appropriate and safely managed toilet and shower facilities for men, women and children;
  • Access to emergency/interim hygiene facilities;
  • Provision of culturally appropriate, gender and age-sensitive information, services and supplies related to hygiene promotion and adoption of safe hygiene practices, reaching more than 6,500 individuals during 2021;
  • Access to appropriate WASH services in health, learning and recreational-related facilities;
  • Provision of technical assistance and coordination of the WASH sector of the temporary Reception Centre;
  • Support in operating and maintaining WASH facilities in the camp through the development of relevant protocols and procedures.

With a completed sewage network and containerized hygiene facilities including 370 showers and 655 toilets already installed on the site, the project will be fully operational once connected to the municipal water and sewage network, providing sustainable access to water and sanitation facilities to the entire population of the Reception Centre.

Beate Gminder, Head of the EU Task Force Migration Management stated “In a few weeks’ time, the new shower and toilet facilities, fully connected to the local water and sewage grids, will be available to the residents. This is a major improvement of hygiene conditions.

I am really pleased that the EU funding has led to this concrete result, thanks to UNICEF and its partners’ investment and devotion on the ground and certainly to the residents and community volunteers for their close involvement and collaboration.”

Access to save water is a fundamental human right. As a result of the EU’s crucial contribution, and with thanks to the Greek authorities, UN sister agencies IOM and UNHCR, and many local partners and community members, every child and every resident of the Mavrovouni site can be assured of access to safe water and hygiene facilities” noted Luciano Calestini, UNICEF Representative in Greece.

UNICEF continues working closely with the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum, the EU Task Force for Migration Management, local authorities and migrant communities in the site on the effective management and maintenance of WASH facilities.

Media contacts

Olga Siokou - Siova
Communication Specialist
Tel: +30 211 2340 297


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For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Greece, visit www.unicef.org/greece.

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