Child dies in Greek migrant camp fire

Updated Mar 17 2020

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LESBOS: Migrants stand on a burned container home in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on Monday.—AP
LESBOS: Migrants stand on a burned container home in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on Monday.—AP

ATHENS: A six-year-old child died on Monday in a fire at a badly overcrowded migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, officials said.

A local fire department official confirmed the incident as state TV ERT said the fire broke out in a container at the camp of Moria. The channel said the child was a girl.

Since the beginning of March, hundreds of people have arrived by sea on Greek islands near Turkey after Ankara said it would not prevent asylum seekers from travelling to the EU.

There are already more than 37,000 asylum seekers in island camps originally built to house around 6,000.

Lacking space, Greek authorities in early March put over 450 migrants on a navy ship docked at the Lesbos port of Mytilene. After several days at the harbour, it sailed to the mainland at the weekend.

Another 190 people landed on the Greek island of Kea near Athens on Monday on a tanker that ran aground in the face of gale-force winds.

EU and Greek officials last week said 5,000 asylum seekers on Greek islands would be given financial incentives to return home to relieve pressure on overwhelmed camps. Moria is Greece’s largest camp for refugees and migrants and remains severely overcrowded, with thousands sleeping outside the perimeter in tents, despite a government pledge made before the winter to improve conditions and move thousands to the Greek mainland.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2020