On the mainland, asylum seekers are increasingly concerned with the prospect of a long waiting period for full registration interviews while living in substandard conditions, and experiencing upcoming winter at the sites. In close coordination with the Office of the Alternate Minister of Migration Policy and thanks to funding from the European Commission – Humanitarian Aid, UNHCR and partners are focusing on responding to the winterization needs including shelter and Non-Food Items (NFIs), complemented by the continuous efforts to expand the alternative accommodation places scheme in urban settings. Heavy rains and lower temperatures in Northern, Western and Central Greece already created damages to the sites in early September. UNHCR promptly responded by providing NFIs and shelter improvements (gravelling, replacement of tents, etc.).
On the Aegean Islands, a total of 3,080 people arrived in September compared to 3,447 arrivals in August. Since April, 15,372 refugees and migrants have crossed the sea to Greece, in comparison to 372,628 in the same period in 2015. Lesvos and Chios recorded the highest number of arrivals during the month, corresponding to 36% and 27% of total new arrivals, respectively. Returns to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Statement continued although in limited numbers, with a total of 578 people returned since 20 March 2016. People returned were rejected asylum seekers, persons who decided to withdraw their asylum application or to voluntarily return to Turkey.