Improve the living conditions of refugees in Samos

The Greek island of Samos is home to one of the most over-populated refugee camps in Europe. At present, there are over 6000 migrants living on the camp, which was only designed to hold 650 people. The situation is becoming increasingly desperate with people sleeping under tents and going without access to basic rights such as housing, sanitary items, education and health care. Currently,  there is one doctor in the camp and hundreds of people queue at his door each day.

The situation shows no signs of easing, as migrants are arriving daily from Syria, Afghanistan, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon  through Turkey, all of whom seek asylum in the hope that they will be granted international protection in Europe.

Since the agreement between the European Union and Turkey in 2016, asylum seekers have been banned from entering the continent until their asylum application has been processed. They are therefore stuck on the island until this procedure is completed. This can take months and, in some cases,  years.

Since June of this year leading global law firm DLA Piper has partnered with Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF) to support the work of the Samos Legal Centre in providing much-needed legal advice to migrants and assist them with their asylum applications. Their work has also involved advocating for those who have been refused medical and psychiatric care.

Until recently, the raw reality of life on the camp has been hidden from view of the public. However, the  exhibition "Through Our Eyes" featuring photos taken by children and young asylum seekers on the camp will be launching in Brussels this November. The exhibition, hosted by DLA Piper, seeks to highlight the current situation for those living on the camp. It will also be raising much-needed funds to support the work of ASF and Still I Rise, two NGOs who are very active in Samos. As the situation becomes critical funds are needed to keep ASF' Samos Legal Center open and ensure the legal representation of the largest number of asylum seekers in Samos. The collected funds will also  support Mazì school and their extensive educational program which benefit 150 children every year.

The collected funds will be distributed equally between the two organisations:

- Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF)

ASF has set up the Legal Center in Samos  which has been open and operational since 15th January 2019. Their team has already accompanied more than 700 asylum seekers living in Samos. People in the camp benefit from legal follow-up throughout their asylum procedures. The team also allows them to prepare their asylum interviews and provide support to people in vulnerable situation.

Further information about the Legal Center in Samos of ASF can be found here:

- Still I Rise

Still I Rise started in 2018 with the objective of restoring education and safety to children in need and displaced by conflict. Mazì was set up by Still I Rise in August 2018 as the first school for asylum seekers children living in the Samos refugee camp. They help their students through education and psycho-social support. The asylum system on the island largely excludes them from public education while denying many of their basic human rights. Mazì provides a safe place for 150 students between 12 and 17 years old to learn, grow and cope with the trauma they are subject to everyday in the camp. Further information about Still I Rise can be found here:

Thank you for your invaluable support and  and if you have any question, please contact Margaux Bia ([email redacted]) for more information.

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