Thank you for contacting me about refugees on Lesbos, Greece.
The UK has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis and continues to be one of the largest international donors, having now committed more than £2.8 billion since 2012. Across Syria and neighbouring countries, the UK has provided over 27 million food rations, over 14 million medical consultations, and over 10 million vaccines since the conflict began.
In particular, the UK has a strong bilateral relationship with Greece and continues to offer support and exchange expertise to alleviate the intense pressures on the islands.
New migrant arrivals on the Greek islands are accommodated in Reception and Identification Centres ("hotspots") while they are processed in line with the 2016 EU/Turkey statement. Due to high numbers of arrivals, some of the hotspots are operating well beyond capacity and conditions for many migrants are worryingly poor. The United Kingdom continues to raise concerns about conditions on the islands in discussions with the Greek Government, most recently on 7 February by our Ambassador.
The UK Government is working closely with the Greek Government, who retain ultimate responsibility for the situation of migrants in their country. I know Ministers remain committed to supporting Greece's efforts in dealing with the migration challenge including through providing interpreters to support the Greek Reception Service; a United Kingdom Border Force search-and-rescue cutter in the Aegean; and over £500,000 to support the humanitarian needs of migrants on the islands for the 2019/20 winter.
On a recent visit to Turkey, the Foreign Secretary raised the UK’s concern about irregular migration and increased tensions on the Greece-Turkey border with the Turkish Foreign Minister. He has also paid respect to Turkey for the generosity they have shown in supporting millions of displaced Syrian refugees. These discussions build upon the wider dialogue the UK has been having about diplomatic tension in the Eastern Mediterranean region. It is critical for stability in the region that disputes between Greece and Turkey are resolved through constructive dialogue and in accordance with international law.
I hope this reassures you that action is being taken to support refugees in Greece. This is of course a constantly evolving situation and I will be sure to follow developments in the region closely.