Lesvos, Greece-A police car pulls up to the PIKPA youth centre on the Greek island of Lesvos to drop off a new batch of “irregular” migrants.
Most of them are ethnic Hazaras from Afghanistan, and they are fresh off the boat from Turkey. But PIKPA is not an official first reception centre. It is a former youth centre, transformed into a community-run, temporary shelter for the dozens of migrants that reach the island each day.
The number of migrants arriving via the Aegean Sea tripled last year to reach 11,831, after a fence was erected along the land border between Greece and Turkey in 2012. Only a couple of hours’ boat ride from the Turkish coast, the island of Lesvos has been particularly affected.
When Moria, the government-run identification centre, runs out of capacity, the police drop migrants at PIKPA before space frees up to take them in for registration.
Given plans to expand Moria’s capacity from 100 to 250 people in the identification centre, in addition to 400 places in the pre-departure centre for individuals subject to deportation, it is uncertain what the role of PIKPA might be in the future. “When Moria gets bigger, then PIKPA will not be needed,” Konstantinos explains.