Moria migrants: Greek camp fire sparks race to find shelter for 13,000

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media captionThe BBC’s Jean Mackenzie hung out chatting with individuals on the camp simply six months in the past and displays on her experiences there

Greece is in a race to search out shelter for 1000’s of migrants pressured to flee an overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos that has been destroyed by fireplace.

The blaze ripped by way of the Moria camp late Tuesday, with one other fireplace wiping out any remaining tents on Wednesday.

Greek officers mentioned lots of the 13,000 migrants who lived within the camp could be quickly positioned on ships at a close-by port or in tents flown in from Athens.

About 400 youngsters and youngsters have been transferred to the mainland.

However Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi informed the BBC that about 2,000 individuals won’t have entry to a shelter and authorities have been working to offer emergency lodging close to the Moria camp web site.

“Hopefully by midnight or within the early hours of the morning, most individuals can have a alternative tent supplied,” he mentioned, including that “weak individuals and households” have been being taken to the port metropolis of Mytilene, the place they might sleep on specifically supplied ships.

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He added that their had been “no casualties, no lack of life” and that some individuals have been returning to “secure areas” close to the Moria camp, which was solely designed to carry 3,000 individuals.

What occurred at Moria?

Fires broke out in additional than three locations in a brief area of time, native fireplace chief Konstantinos Theofilopoulos informed state tv channel ERT. Some protesting migrants hindered firefighters who tried to sort out the flames, he mentioned.

The primary blaze, which was initially fanned by excessive winds, was put out by Wednesday morning. Some 20 firefighters, 10 fireplace engines and a helicopter have been despatched to the scene.

picture copyrightReuters

picture captionMigrants fleeing the camp tried to avoid wasting of their belongings

The incident occurred simply hours after reviews that 35 individuals had examined constructive for Covid-19 on the Moria camp. Authorities positioned the ability beneath quarantine final week after a Somali migrant was confirmed to have contracted coronavirus.

Mr Mitarachi mentioned the fires “started with the asylum seekers due to the quarantine imposed”. A few of these contaminated with the virus had reportedly refused to maneuver into isolation with their households.

Mr Mitarachi didn’t say, nevertheless, that the fires have been a deliberate act of arson aimed toward destroying the camp.

However some migrants informed BBC Persian that the hearth had damaged out after scuffles between migrants and Greek forces on the camp.

A number of blamed “far-right Greeks” for the blaze after the announcement of coronavirus circumstances, and took images of what they mentioned have been canisters used to ignite the flames.
picture copyrightReuters
picture captionContainers and tents used to shelter migrants on the Moria camp have been fully destroyed

Many migrants then tried to hold their belongings to the port city of Mytilene, however police had blocked roads. Others have been reportedly attacked by locals as they tried to go by way of a close-by village.

The mayor of Mytilene, Stratis Kytelis, mentioned it was “a really tough state of affairs as a result of a few of those that are outdoors will embody people who find themselves constructive [for coronavirus]”.

Reviews recommend many slept in fields after the hearth.

What has the response been?

A state of emergency has been declared and a number of other ministers have been despatched to Lesbos to evaluate the state of affairs.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis mentioned “the state of affairs in Moria can’t go on, as a result of it’s concurrently a public well being and nationwide safety concern”.

The EU has supplied to assist with the response.

European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned the primary precedence was “the security of these left with out shelter”.

media captionSome individuals have been injured from smoke publicity as they evacuated the Moria camp
German overseas minister Heiko Maas described the blaze as a “humanitarian catastrophe” and tweeted about “the distribution of refugees amongst these keen to just accept admission within the EU”.

Prime Minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, later supplied to “absorb 1,000 refugees”.

What’s the camp?

The Moria Refugee Camp lies north-east of Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos. It has been overwhelmed by large numbers of refugees for years.

In response to InfoMigrants, about 70% of individuals within the camp are from Afghanistan however migrants from greater than 70 completely different nations dwell there.

An overflow web site – the Kara Tepe Refugee Camp – has since been constructed however there’s nonetheless not sufficient area to accommodate all arrivals.

For years, 1000’s of people that arrived on Lesbos have been positioned within the camp and couldn’t go away till their asylum software was processed on the mainland – a sluggish, bureaucratic course of.

The EU has tried to resettle migrants amongst completely different member states however governments throughout the bloc have rejected completely different proposals, and migrants have waited in squalid situations.

In April, Human Rights Watch mentioned the Greek authorities had not completed sufficient to sort out “acute overcrowding” on the web site, warning it was not ready for an outbreak of coronavirus.
The Greek authorities plan to construct closed detention websites to deal with migrants on the Greek islands. Protesters on Lesbos attacked authorities in February who introduced building gear to the island.
media captionHas Greece change into extra hostile to migrants?

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