Days after a devastating fire razed Greece’s largest refugee camp to the ground rendering several thousands homeless, the Greek government has said that it has no plans to move any more migrants from Lesbos, the island where the incident occurred, CNN reported.
Officials claim that the fires were deliberately started after quarantine rules were imposed on residents of the camp, who had tested positive for Covid-19. At least 35 migrants, who had contracted the deadly virus, are currently missing, Director of the Greek Migration Minister’s Office, Konstantinos Kostakos, told CNN.
“They are still missing. We are introducing rapid Covid tests and new isolation spaces are also being created. We expect the situation to be under control very soon,” he said.
Around 406 unaccompanied minors were brought to mainland Greece after the fire destroyed a large part of the Moria camp. According to Greek officials, another 1,000 migrants will be taken to a ship docked near the western side of the island for the time being, the CNN report stated.
“This is the first ship that has docked on the island. If there is a need we will consider bringing more,” he said, adding that people will not be moved off the island. “The Greek government will not be blackmailed. What happened — this ‘burn and go’ tactic — will not be tolerated.”
The vastly-overcrowded camp has been widely criticised in the past for its poor living conditions. It was home to over 13,000 people, which is six times its actual capacity.
Here are the top updates on the Moria migrant camp fire:
Germany, France agree to take 400 stranded underage migrants
Germany has said that at least 10 European countries have agreed to rescue 400 unaccompanied minors who have been left stranded after the fire at the migrant camp. During a press conference on Friday, the country’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer confirmed that a majority of the children would go to Germany and France, BBC reported.
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to help Greece in its time of crisis by evacuating some of the children, DW reported. “As a preliminary step we are offering to Greece to accept refugees who are minors — other steps must follow,” Merkel said on Thursday.
“Germany is committed to this responsibility. But we cannot be satisfied with European migration policy — there isn’t one at the moment,” she added.
Greece sets up tents and temporary shelter for stranded migrants
Greek authorities on Thursday started setting up tents for the migrants who have been left without shelter, Reuters reported. More than 12,000 migrants are believed to be camping in fields and on the road without food and water in the Greek island of Lesbos.
However, the government is faced with growing resentment amongst the Greek residents of the northern Aegean islands. “Moria is a monstrosity,” Dimitris Koursoubas, a senior official responsible for migration in the northern Aegean islands told Reuters. “We want all the migrants out, for national reasons. Moria is over.”
Several migrants told CNN that they believed Greek locals were behind the fires. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday urged European countries to “move from words of solidarity” to action by helping the country provide shelter for the stranded migrants, BBC reported.
Germany calls for urgent EU migrant reforms after devastating fire
After the devastating fire gutted the refugee camp, Germany on Wednesday pushed for urgent reform of the European Union’s migration policies, AFP reported.
“We urgently need a common refugee intake programme among as many EU countries as possible and finally a common asylum and migration policy for the EU,” the country’s Minister for Europe Michael Roth told AFP.
“Protecting Europe means defending human rights. Germany and the European Union must quickly help the refugees, and Greece now needs our support and solidarity,” Roth stressed.
EU Commission VP announces gutted camp will be replaced with modern facility
After touring the remains of the refugee camp on Thursday, European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas announced that a more modern camp would be rebuilt in its place. He also pointed out that it was “inconceivable” that the EU did not yet have a unified migration policy, BBC reported.
He further said that the European Commission’s proposals for new migration and asylum rules would “put an end to this unacceptable situation”.