Greece Arrests Five Over Lesbos Migrant Camp Blaz

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Image copyrightReuters

image CaptionMany expatriates are reluctant to enter this new camp

Greek police said five migrants were arrested in a fire in Lesbos that destroyed a crowded migrant camp last week, a Greek minister says.

Five are young foreign nationals and a sixth is being searched, said Minister of Civil Protection Mikhailis Chrysohidis.

Around 800 of the more than 12,000 migrants and refugees who fled to Moria last week have moved to a new camp.

But the vast majority are still sleeping rough.

Greek officials say 21 people in the new camp tested positive for coronavirus.

They are now separated from other migrants in a temporary karate tape camp at a former military firing range near the devastated Moria site. It is also near Mytilene, the island’s main city.

Image copyrightEPA

image CaptionOn 14 September, a drone photo shows that the Moria camp is completely gutted by fire

The Greek government accused the migrants of starting an explosion in Moria a week earlier, as they were angry over the isolation measures imposed to prevent the coronovirus outbreak. The migrants disputed, blaming hostile locals for the blast.

The German government has now agreed to take 1,553 migrants from Moria – they are from 408 families with refugee status.

Earlier, Germany had also said that it would take more than 150 illegal minors from Moria. Greece landed 400 children on the mainland last week, and EU countries agreed to receive them, although details are not yet clear.

The Greek government currently aims to shelter more than 12,000 migrants from Moria in the new temporary camp, although it acknowledges that most are reluctant to move there. After the squire of Moria, most expatriates want to go elsewhere in Europe.

But apart from Germany, no other EU country has offered to take hundreds of migrants.

Media captionThe BBC’s Gene McKenzie spent time in the camp just six months ago talking to people and showcasing his experiences there.

Meanwhile, from Crete, Greek rescuers rescued 56 migrants from a capsized boat but two children and a woman were drowned.

Their bodies were found 12 nautical miles (14 mi) off the east coast of Crete and it is not yet clear whether there were more victims.

The Greek Coastguard service said four ships and two helicopters took part in the search late Monday night amidst strong winds.

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Most of those fleeing Moriya have spent six nights sleeping, many on the road to Mytilene, which has been blocked by police to prevent them from reaching the port.

Most from Afghanistan, people from 70 countries took refuge in Moriya.

Greece plans to create a permanent reception center for migrants and refugees on Lesbos. And it states that in most cases migrants can only be left to Lesbos, as their asylum applications have been processed.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR is equipped with temporary Kara Tepe camps. The situation so far is said to be very basic, with migrants lacking in mattresses and showers.

Migration Minister Notis Mitarkis, quoted by the Greek daily Ekathimerini, said the temporary camp would house all those who are out of the Moria camp.

Media captionThousands of migrants and refugees are seeking permanent housing elsewhere

Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis said that “it was time for Europe to support him in passing from words to actions, to express in tangible solidarity”. He was speaking after meeting EU Council President Charles Michel in Athens on Tuesday.

The Moriya camp was initially designed to house 3,000 migrants and refugees. However, at the time it was destroyed, more than 12,000 were kept there.

According to local fire chief Constantino Theophilopoulos, more than three locations in the camp caught fire last Tuesday. Further fire destroyed it almost completely.

The number of visits to the Greek islands near Turkey has dropped significantly since the 2015 migrant crisis, but Greek camps remain overcrowded, as in Italy.

Greece and Italy have accused the EU rich countries of failing to share the burden, as irregular migrants – including refugees from war zones – want a new life in Europe.

Central and Eastern European members of the European Union reject the idea of ​​migrants taking quota, and at the end of this month the European Union Commission is expected to present a new plan to deal with the migration crisis.

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