Lesbos: Greek police transfer migrants to new camp after Moria fire


image copyrightReuters

legendMigrants have been sleeping rough for a week since the Moria fire

Police on the Greek island of Lesvos are moving thousands of migrants and refugees from the fire-ravaged Moria camp to a new tent town nearby.

Seventy women officers in protective gear were airlifted to organize the transfer of the women and children to the Kara Tepe temporary camp.

On Wednesday, four Afghan asylum seekers were accused of starting the fire that destroyed Moria last week.

A government official said 1,800 moved to Kara Tepe early Thursday.

But many migrants and refugees remain reluctant to stay in Lesvos, as Moria was overcrowded and sordid. They hope to go elsewhere in Europe, especially Germany.

image copyrightReuters
legendMany migrants hesitate to enter a new camp in Lesbos

More than 12,000 people fled the Moria blaze and most have been sleeping rough since then, short of food, water and shelter.

Officers began waking families up early Thursday to move them to the new camp. Footage from the scene shows female officers dressed in white talking to migrants.

Migrants are tested for the coronavirus before entering Kara Tepe. Reuters news agency reports that 56 of them have tested positive for Covid-19, and authorities are working to keep those infected in isolation. A police spokesperson told AFP that the operation was aimed “at safeguarding public health”.

The fire broke out last week after 35 people tested positive for the coronavirus and some opposed being placed in isolation after months of lockdown.

During the operation to transfer migrants to the temporary camp, the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) tweeted that it had been refused access to its new clinic in Lesbos by the Greek police.

After several hours, the group said they were finally allowed to reopen their site, but said it was “of great concern” that their medical care was cut off during the move.

media legendBBC’s Jean Mackenzie spent time talking to people at the camp just six months ago and reflecting on his experiences there

People from 70 countries had been hosted in Moria, most of them from Afghanistan.

The German government has now agreed to take in 1,553 migrants from Moria – they come from 408 families who have been granted refugee status.

Earlier, Germany had also said it would accept up to 150 unaccompanied minors. Greece transported 400 children to the mainland last week, and EU countries have agreed to take them in, although details are not yet clear.

Since the 2015 migrant crisis, the number of arrivals on Greek islands close to Turkey has declined significantly, but Greek camps, like those in Italy, remain overcrowded.

Greece and Italy have accused wealthier northern EU countries of not sharing the burden, as irregular migrants – including refugees from war zones – continue to seek new life in Europe.


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