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  • Flames burn in the Moria refugees camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, 09 September 2020.

    Flames burn in the Moria refugees camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, 09 September 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA/ Stratis Balaskas

Published 9 September 2020
Opinion

A preliminary assessment by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) shows that over 12.600 migrants have been displaced and 80 percent of the Moria facility was destroyed.

Massive fires were destroyed on Wednesday, Greece's largest refugee camp in Moria, in Lesbos island, leaving almost 13.000 people without shelter and forced to flee elsewhere.

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The Greek government declared the state of emergency on the island as mobilized all security forces to support the island and asylum seekers. The state of emergency will remain in place for the next four months. 

Firefighters have eliminated most of the flames thus far, but authorities have not established the cause of the fires, and there are no casualties reported yet. Local police blocked access to neighboring towns to prevent migrants from crossing as the camp was in insolation due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Moria's town mayor  Yiannis Mastroyiannis told the press that the blaze broke out after 35 people who tested positive to the COVID-19 refused to move to an isolation center. This information was confirmed by Greek Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi, who said that "incidents in Moria began with the asylum seekers because of the quarantine imposed.¨

Nevertheless, either of them said that the fires were a deliberate act by the migrants aimed at destroying the camp.

The humanitarian disaster unleashed a race to find shelter for thousands of refugees. A preliminary assessment by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) shows that over 12.600 migrants have been displaced, and 80 percent of the Moria facility was destroyed. The camp was designed to host only 3.000 people.

"This devastating tragedy compounds the already existing challenges and difficult conditions at Moria due to overcrowding and COVID-19," IOM chief Antonio Vitorino said.

Moreover, UNICEF said that it is urgent to address the need of the 4.000 children already living in the camp, especially the "407 vulnerable unaccompanied minors."

Local media outlets report that already 400 teenagers and children have been transferred to the mainland. 

On the other hand,  Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi explained to the BBC that about 2.000 people might no have access to a shelter. Still, authorities were working to provide emergency accommodation in the surroundings of the Moria camp.

Furthermore, "vulnerable people and families" were being taken to the port city of Mytilene, where they will be able to sleep on "specially provided ships."  

   

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