Greece hopeful of end to Lesbos migrant crisis within a week

Published September 14, 2020
LESBOS (Greece): Children of asylum-seekers bide their time as adults queue for food distribution along the roadside following the burning down of their camp last week.—AFP
LESBOS (Greece): Children of asylum-seekers bide their time as adults queue for food distribution along the roadside following the burning down of their camp last week.—AFP

LESBOS ISLAND: Greece said on Sunday it hoped thousands of asylum seekers left homeless by fires at Europe’s largest migrant camp could be rehoused within a week to end a crisis that has seen protesters clash with police.

Asylum-seekers — including the elderly and very young children — have been sleeping rough on Lesbos island since Wednesday, when some 11,000 fled the overcrowded Moria camp after it was gutted in apparent arson attacks. Clashes occurred on Saturday after hundreds of migrants staged a generally peaceful demonstration. Some young men started throwing stones at riot police who responded with tear gas.

Migrants demonstrated again peacefully on Sunday morning, a reporter said.

Authorities have now set up a new 3,000-capacity camp at Kara Tepe, a few kilometres (miles) from the destroyed Moria camp, regularly criticised by the UN and rights groups for overcrowding and dismal sanitary conditions.

“This is a decent provisional structure that will give us the chance to handle the situation until the next stage”, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. A new permanent reception and registration centre for asylum seekers would avoid “the problems of Moria”, he added.

Migration Ministry officials said on Saturday that the plan was to eventually provide tents for all the homeless and accelerate the asylum procedure, with minister Notis Mitarachi saying it would take “five days” to get everyone inside.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2020

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