Lesbos Fire: Migrants can’t leave camp residents, Greece says

According to Greece’s Ministry of Migration, the site is in Cara Tepe, near the existing camp. Army helicopters have been carrying tents and other supplies to the new temporary camp.

Migrants and refugees, now lining the main road connecting the island cities Mytilene and Moria, will be directed to the site by authorities.

They must register and undergo rapid coronovirus tests before entering.

Greek officials said the fire in Moria was deliberately lit after quarantine rules were applied to residents testing positive for coronovirus in Europe’s largest refugee camp.

Many do not want to return to a refugee camp and leave the island, but the Greek government insisted that it would not be “blackmailed.”

Officials said there were no plans to relocate any more migrants from Lesbos, as it moved 406 unconscious children to mainland Greece, as a large part of Moria was destroyed this week.

Moria was home to an estimated 13,000 people – more than six times its capacity.

The camp’s refugees have been left homeless and hungry after the fire, with some sleeping on roadies and gas stations while dozens of families have taken refuge in a nearby cemetery.

The director of the Greek migration minister’s office, Constantino Costacos, said the authorities would temporarily relocate 1,000 migrants – particularly in vulnerable groups – on a ship docked in Sigri on the island’s west side.

Refugees protested a few kilometers from Europe's largest refugee camp, where quarantine measures were recently put in place after 35 residents tested positive for coronovirus.

“This is the first ship docked on the island. If there is a need we would consider bringing more,” Kostakos said. But he warned that they would not move away from the island.

“The Greek government will not be blackmailed. What happened – this ‘burn and go’ strategy – will not be tolerated.”

Kostakos said on Friday that authorities were searching for migrants who tested positive for coronovirus. “35 [who tested positive for Covid-19] It has not been located yet, ”he said.

“They are still missing. We are rapidly starting a Kovid test and new isolation locations are also being built. We expect the situation to be under control very soon.”

Several camp residents told CNN that they believed Greek locals, rather than migrants, were responsible for the fire.

Lesbos residents have erected many obstacles on the island to keep the army or other vehicles to rebuild or clean the camp.

Locals were already at loggerheads over plans to replace Moria, fearing that thousands of refugees would remain permanently on the island.

France and Germany joined forces

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last night confirmed plans by France and Germany to take minors off the island, hoping other EU countries would join it as well.

Merkel said, “I asked the Greek Prime Minister how we could help and his request was that we take the minors to the Greek mainland.”

Homeless migrants and refugees destroyed a dangerously crowded camp by the roadside in the wee hours of Friday.

“We have approached France. Germany and France will participate in it.”

Merkel said the issue of migration was not just the problem of Germany, nor the problem of the country where people come from, saying that it should become a “European responsibility”.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that after his confirmation the two countries were coordinating to find a solution to welcome refugees from the camp.

He said that Europe had to “stand in solidarity with Greece in the face of the terrible reality before us.”

‘Anger and despair’

It is still unclear how the fire started on the sprawling encroachment, which extends into the olive groves outside the main UN camp, where thousands of squelches live in wooden huts. Residents say they wait hours to use a bathroom, and sometimes queue all day for meals.

When CNN reported from the camp in March, a rank odor filled the air, the river overflowed with garbage and residents of the camp protested at the island’s main port demanding transport to the Greek mainland on an almost daily basis .

German charity group Mission Lifeline said in a statement that “there was anger and disappointment for refugees who had taken refuge in Moria after the Coronia virus lockdown was implemented”.

A Greek firefighter tries to extinguish the embers after a series of fires.

“There was a dispute at the Kovid-19 station in the first camp which spread throughout the night at night. Security forces used tear gas,” the statement said. “A large proportion of the habitats burned. Homeless people fled to the surrounding olive trees.”

Mission Lifeline co-founder Axel Steer said he warned that the condition would “aggravate” the camp’s poor conditions.

“People in Moria are exposed to extreme psychological stress. The camp lock is now the final straw,” Steer said. “Refugees in Moria are not treated as humans.”

Faris Al-Javad of Doctors Without Borders told CNN, “I was here in 2018 as well, until 2019, and I thought at the time it couldn’t really be worse. I’m here in 2020 now.” I was wrong: it’s worse, and for children too. We are talking about children who have potentially nothing but war and now their futures are once again getting away from them. ”

Congolese camp resident Paul Kadima Mujungino reported that CNN set fire to a group of minors.

“They started fires everywhere,” Mujungeno said. “Everything quickly deteriorated. The police did not have the situation.”

Another resident, who refused to disclose his full name for security reasons, said that “some people living in the camp were angry about the quarantine. They set up a small fire. So the police came and tear gas Arrived. And then the fire escalated. We had to flee. ”

“There’s nothing there. I’m standing outside on the street, near the camp, there are a lot of people here. There are also police but they don’t tell us where to go. We don’t have any food or water. They say “Wait. Here.” It is very hot today and there are women and children.

“We lost everything like clothes and drugs,” Mahtab, an Afghan expatriate, told CNN.

Melissa Bell reported from Lesbos and Alinda LaBaropoulou and Chris LeCos reported from Athens, Greece. CNN’s Zahid Mahmood, Emma Reynolds, Stephanie Hallaz and Tamara Qiblawi contributed to this report.