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Upinion Engages with Asylum Seekers on Lesbos: "Moria is Hell"

Upinion would like to share insights of asylum seekers and migrants on Lesbos. Upinion connected with 165 camps' residents on Lesbos via their communication tool using social messaging apps. The answers are quite distressing. Almost everyone felt unsafe and their psychological well-being has deteriorated since their arrival on Lesbos. The overall goal of this research is to help improve living conditions of asylum seekers on Lesbos while involving them in the change process.

Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 12, 2019 --( Upinion had real-time conversations with asylum seekers and migrants on Lesbos using Facebook Messenger. The answers from the community members were distressing. Almost everyone felt unsafe. Most mentioned reasons for this were: active gangs, exposure to harassment and violence (especially for women), widespread illnesses and lack of control by the authorities. Asylum seekers also fear for the safety and living conditions of their children in the camps:

“I fear for my wife and daughter to be killed by gangs." - Iraqi man, age group 25-34

Upinion talks to people; not about them
Currently thousands of people flee their home country escaping violence and poverty. Those arriving on Greek islands are held in camps awaiting asylum applications to be processed. This has led to overcrowded camps on Lesbos island for instance. Upinion reached out to asylum seekers on Lesbos to learn about their needs, living conditions and whether they have access to legal assistance. Upinion does so because they believe that people affected by crisis situations know the problem and solutions for them. Their goal is to talk directly to people in crisis situations so their voices influence decisions affecting their lives.

How does Upinion connect with communities?
Upinion amplifies people’s voices by gathering instant stories from people in crisis situations. How do they do that? With their communication platform, so the same social messaging apps are used as people connect to their friends and families, such as Facebook Messenger. Therefore Upinion could engage with them directly and instantly, and ask them questions in any language.

On Lesbos, Upinion have had several conversations with asylum seekers using their communication platform in Arabic, Farsi and French. 165 asylum seekers completed the conversation(s), whom are called "community members," and with whom it is possible to have continuous conversations. The below insights are based on their responses.

Insights of 165 asylum seekers on Lesbos
Upinion’s conversation platform allowed asylum seekers and migrants to directly share about their needs and concerns:

The psychological well-being of the community members is deteriorating. Almost all of them indicated that their psychological well-being has been impacted negatively since their arrival on Lesbos. This is due to the inadequate services, lengthy waiting periods and safety concerns. The majority needs access to a psychologist, however, half of them was unable to speak with one.

“I have suffered from psychological problems because of the daily threats, harassment and exposure to death." - Single Syrian man, age group 18-24

Asylum procedure
The majority of the community (68%) has not received a decision on their asylum case yet - a quarter of which have been waiting for more than 6 months. Also, not everyone knows how to access information about the asylum process - 28% of the community is unaware of how to receive information about the asylum process.

Legal assistance
Half of the community had consulted a lawyer for legal assistance. Those who had not, didn't because: they did not know it is possible, they thought it was useless or they had trouble finding one. According to the community, the existing legal services on Lesbos could improve if more lawyers, interpreters and relevant information are available.

"I prefer to have more female interpreters. It is easier for women to talk in the presence of other women without fear." - Afghani woman, 25-34 years, living with a friend

Next steps
Upinion’s overall goal is to help improve living conditions of asylum seekers on Lesbos while involving them in the change process. In the community there are now 165 asylum seekers who accepted that they can be contacted again. Upinion is currently working on creating a strong network with relevant NGOs and UN agencies in Greece so they can use our direct connection with the community there. If you also are interested in engaging directly with people on Lesbos, please contact Upinion via If you are interested in the full report, please go to their website
Contact Information
Tessa de Kruijk
+31 (0)85 888 222 8

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