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Fire Destroys Greek Moria Migrant Camp Leaving 13,000 Without Shelter

Aishwarya Sharma

13th September 2020

A migrant woman with her child displaced by the ravaging fires. (Source: National Post)

A devastating fire broke out in three places on the island of Lesbos, displacing over 13,000 migrants of the Moria refugee camp. The migrant camp housed 70% Afghans, and migrants from more than 70 different countries.

According to BBC News, the cause of the fire is yet to be identified. However, it is being attributed by Greek officials to the 35 COVID-positive migrants refusing to go into isolation. This presumption has allegedly led to scuffles between them and the rest of the camp residents.

Greek officials declared that arson could not be ruled out. However, the migrants had a different story to tell. About 13,000 migrants were living in a camp meant to house 3,000 migrants in terribly harsh conditions.

Marco Sandrone, Lesbos project coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), told BBC News, "It's a time bomb that finally exploded,” further mentioning that people had been kept in 'inhumane conditions' at the site for years.

According to CNN, a lot of people were forced to sleep at gas stations and on roadsides, while several other families stayed in a nearby cemetery with no food. Approximately 3,000 people were able to be housed in temporary shelters in Lesbos until alternative arrangements were made.

Greek migrants protested against the authorities as they did not wish to reside in the relocation camps. CNN reported that the migrants wanted to leave the island of Lesbos, whereas the Greek government said they would not be 'blackmailed' into relocating them. The migrants continued chanting 'freedom' along with placards that read ‘No tent, No Lesbos, No Greece,’ ‘we need peace and freedom,’ and, ‘Moria kills all lives’.

Protests at Mytilene's island town resulted in the Greek police firing rounds of tear gas to disperse the protesters and migrants. Police officers blocked the main road to ensure no interruption during the construction of the new tents.

As stated by Aljazeera, France, and Germany offered their support on behalf of the EU. French President Emanuel Macron declared that France and Germany were ready to take in 'some' of the unaccompanied minors residing in Moria. Later on, German officials affirmed that Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Switzerland were also ready to take refugees and unaccompanied children.

(Sources: BBC News, CNN, Aljazeera)

Edited by Nayana Dhanya

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