11: EU border migration policy and unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece: the example of Lesvos and Samos hotspots

On the night of 8 September 2020, the Lesvos’ Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) – better known as Moria-hotspot – was set on fire by its inhabitants. After two days of consecutive fires, ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’, according to MSF, was burned to the ground. At that moment, the camp and the surrounding olive groves were the residence of circa 12,500 people, among which more than 400 unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs) living in inhumane conditions. A few days later, the URMs from Moria were poised to be relocated to other EU countries, providing an Aristotelian catharsis after the ongoing tragedy. This event was followed by another attempted arson, that of the overcrowded Samos Reception and Identification Centre. It started from the URMs’ quarters, a desperate attempt to make themselves visible by setting their living space on fire. The purpose of this chapter is to see how international, European and national legislation on unaccompanied minors are translated into actual reception practices in the RICs on the Greek islands. We hereto examine relevant international, EU and Greek legislation, describe the evolution of the Greek refugee camps on the islands of Lesvos and Samos, and analyse interviews with URMs about their experiences in these hotspots.

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