On Thursday, Greek police began evacuating some of the thousands of refugees thrown into the streets by the Moria fire to a new camp, which the UN and Athens promise “provisionally”.
One week after the fire that ravaged the migration camp in Moria, Greek police on Thursday (September 17) began evacuating some of the thousands of refugees who were left homeless. These are routed to a new “preliminary” campdevantêtre, according to the UN and Athens, which evokes Easter as the deadline for transfer from the islands of Lesbos.
At the end of the morning, a few hundred people lined up in front of the new camp, an AFP journalist stated. Family after family, bags in hand, some with prams, others pulling boxes full of things, the refugees went into the camp, where they will all be tested for Covid-19.
The operation began at 7 a.m. local time (4 GMT) on Thursday. Police, who were present after blocking the area for Médecins Sans Frontières and the media, quietly walked around the tents to gradually empty the area of the homeless and take them to the new camp, which was quickly built after a fire a week ago.
“Migrants are being transferred from the streets to the new structure, from abandonment to care, from health risks to public health control,” welcomed the Minister of Civil Protection, Michalis Chryssohoïdis, during the operation.
2800 people in the new camp
To date, a thousand people have been transferred to the new camp during this operation, he added, emphasizing that this initiative “responds to humanitarian purposes” and “will continue” during the day.
According to an official from the Ministry of Migration, a total of 2,800 people are currently in this camp, including migrants who voluntarily entered it in recent days.
Since the fire in the Moria camp, where nearly 13,000 refugees lived in difficult conditions, thousands of people had taken refuge in temporary shelters, on a corner of the road and in closed parking lots.
MSF is denied overnight access
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which opened an emergency clinic in the area, was denied overnight access from Wednesday to Thursday, while rumors of evacuation circulated, the NGO said. to AFP. However, the clinic had to reopen at the end of the morning, according to a statement from Médecins Sans Frontières.
The Moria camp, the largest in Europe, set up five years ago at the height of the migration crisis and denounced by many NGOs for its difficult conditions, was completely destroyed by the fire, predetermined by the authorities. Greek. Six young Afghan migrants were arrested, four of whom were accused of “arson”.
The Greek authorities and the UN have been building a new camp since Saturday, from which they say asylum procedures can be resumed.
However, many refugees have refused to settle there for fear of being captured again for several months, awaiting a possible transfer to mainland Greece or another European country.
Driven by a week of exhaustion on the streets under a blazing sun, without sanitation, a movement has finally begun towards the new camp, where several hundred migrants settled on Wednesday, according to humanitarian officials.
A “temporary” camp
On Wednesday evening, 1,000 tents, accommodating 8 to 10 people, were built there. Medical tents have not yet been erected and two quarantine zones are planned while a few dozen cases of Covid-19 have been detected – but at the moment it is not serious.
The goal of this new camp – “provisionally”, the authorities promised – is that the refugees “can gradually and in peace leave the island to Athens” or “relocate elsewhere”, the representative said on Wednesday. Greece by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Philippe Leclerc, who visited Lesbos.
Michalis Chryssohoïdis, for his part, estimated that “half” of the refugees could leave Lesbos “for Christmas” and “the others for Easter”.