Fire at migrant camp in Greece leaves thousands homeless

Published September 10, 2020
A view of destroyed shelters at the Moria camp for refugees and migrants following a fire on the island of Lesbos, Greece.
A view of destroyed shelters at the Moria camp for refugees and migrants following a fire on the island of Lesbos, Greece.

LESBOS ISLAND: Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on Wednesday after a fire gutted Greece’s largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and sparking pledges of help from around Europe.

The blaze, which began hours after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus at the Moria camp, sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves — but nobody was seriously hurt.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis blamed the blaze on a “violent reaction” to the virus tests, echoing an earlier report saying several fires had been lit deliberately by migrants angry at being placed into isolation after testing positive.

The EU promised to pay for 400 unaccompanied youngsters to be transported to the mainland and Germany called for EU countries to ramp up support.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said she was “deeply sorrowed” by the fire at the camp, which was built to house fewer than 2,800 people but routinely hosts many times that number.

“Our priority is the safety of those left without shelter,” said the European Commission president.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country holds the presidency of the bloc, said he wanted EU counterparts to assess how they could help — including by taking in refugees.

Norway has already offered to take 50 Syrians from Moria even though Greece has currently banned the camp’s former residents from leaving the island.

An exception will be made for the 400 minors to be taken to the mainland, a migration ministry source told state agency ANA.

Most of the refugees and migrants were sitting on the roadside between the camp and the port of Mytilene on Wednesday, forming long queues.

“What are we going to do now? Where can we go?” said Mahmout, an Afghan, as his compatriot Aisha searched for two of her children.

“Two of my children are there, but I don’t know where the others are,” she said.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2020

Opinion

Viral violence
Updated 25 Feb 2021

Viral violence

How many more brutal videos must be uploaded for us to put an end to torture?
The political chessboard
Updated 24 Feb 2021

The political chessboard

It is now hard for the PTI to defend itself from the opposition’s onslaught.

Editorial

IHK & human rights
Updated 25 Feb 2021

IHK & human rights

If India continues to be pampered and the Kashmiris’ plight ignored, peace in South Asia will remain a distant dream.
25 Feb 2021

A better law

THAT the Sindh Police has taken an initiative to bring improvements to the criminal justice system is a positive...
25 Feb 2021

Power breakdown report

A NEPRA inquiry into last month’s power breakdown that left almost the entire country without electricity for up ...
Return of militancy
Updated 24 Feb 2021

Return of militancy

Extremism is a hydra-headed monster that needs a sustained, multifaceted approach to vanquish.
24 Feb 2021

FDI decrease

THE more permanent and non-debt-creating FDI inflows to Pakistan have shrunk by a whopping 27pc to a meagre $1.1bn ...
24 Feb 2021

Myanmar protests

THE protests against Myanmar’s Feb 1 military coup have refused to die down, with hundreds of thousands of people...