A major fire swept through Europe’s largest refugee camp in Greece on Wednesday, which was already under lockdown due to the coronavirus. The fires destroyed many tents and structures on the campsite, displacing nearly 12,000 people. No deaths have been reported.
Aid workers said that the fire began sometime after 10 PM on Tuesday after the residents protested against the coronavirus restrictions placed on the premises after 35 refugees tested positive. The fires spread across the camp quickly because of high-speed winds sweeping across the campsite and exploding gas canisters. The fire spilt over to a nearby olive grove and left trees on surrounding slopes charred. Most of the camp’s formal infrastructure was razed by sunrise, according to aid workers’ witness accounts.
French President Emmanual Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed on a plan where the EU will take in around 400 unaccompanied minors from Lesbos and provide them with safety and shelter. Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said that arrangements were being made to house the affected refugees. Two naval vessels and one cruise boat with the capacity to house 1,000 people would arrive at the nearest port in Lesbos to help provide shelter amidst the pandemic.
Located on the island of Lesbos, the Moria camp authorities had been warned by rights groups that the dismal living conditions of the camp would eventually cause a humanitarian disaster. Moria was built with the capacity to house around 2,750 people but is overcrowded and shelters four times the number of people.