Fire has destroyed Greece’s largest migrant camp, the overcrowded Moria facility on the island of Lesbos.About 25 firefighters with 10 engines battled the flames as migrants were evacuated. Some suffered injuries from smoke exposure.Reports say migrants protesting against coronavirus rules may have started the fire, though this is unconfirmed.Police blocked migrants heading to the port town of Mytilene, leaving them stuck on the road.
Moria is home to nearly 13,000 people, more than four times the number it can officially hold. According to InfoMigrants, about 70% of people in the camp are from Afghanistan but migrants from more than 70 different countries live there.Lesbos deputy governor Aris Hatzikomninos reportedly told local radio the camp had been “completely destroyed”.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called an emergency meeting on the fire on Wednesday morning.The EU has agreed to finance the transfer of 400 unaccompanied teenagers and children to the mainland and their accommodation, according to EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson.
One local resident told that almost the whole camp had been on fire.”Now with the first light I can see that there is a few tents that make it, they are okay, but the rest of the camp, as I can see from this distance, is burnt out,” Thanasis Voulgarakis said.
What is Moria Refugee Camp?
The Moria Refugee Camp lies north-east of Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos.It was built for just 2,000 people but has been overwhelmed by huge numbers of refugees. An overflow site – the Kara Tepe Refugee Camp – has since been built but there is still not enough space to accommodate all arrivals.
For years, thousands of people who arrived on Lesbos were placed in the camp and could not leave until their asylum application was processed on the mainland – a slow, bureaucratic process.The EU has tried to resettle migrants among different member states. But governments throughout the continent have rejected different proposals, and migrants have waited in squalid conditions.