- A fire that leveled the Moria refugee camp in Greece left 12,000 people homeless, after a single ATM machine was blocked in a Kovid quarantine measure.
- The entire camp relied on bank machines for money. Food, soap and baby supplies became scarce.
- The youth lit a small fire in protest, but they got out of control.
- Sources at the scene told Insider how the entire camp was over in a few hours.
- For more stories visit the Business Insider homepage.
Just after 10pm on Tuesday, September 8, a demonstration at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos took a terrible turn, as a small fire-fed crowd lit by frustrated protesters quickly dispersed into the facility, enclosing it. did. Fully.
The next morning, when flames erupted, much of the camp was destroyed. About 12,000 people were rendered homeless.
It began with the removal of access to an ATM machine upon which the entire camp depended for money.
Kovid arrives, bank cuts off machine access
The remaining part of the site caught fire on Wednesday night. Greek authorities scramble to arrange accommodation for the refugees later that day. Meanwhile, refugees and protests broke out as the refugees sought to be moved away from Lesbos and frustrated residents tried to prevent new housing from being built.
With no intention of burning the refugees to the camp where they lived, Mohammad Akbar said that an Afghan father of three had spoken with Insider by WhatsApp.
But then the coronovirus arrived, it brought a quarantine. The encampment of the camp cut off its residents with the lone ATM machine that served them all – the only banking facility they had.
Moriah was designed to hold 3,000 people in 2015, as waves of refugees fled the war leaving Syria and northern Iraq. But “briefly” became permanent, and by Wednesday 12,000 people lived there. The pre-migration population of Lesbos was only 86,000.
Hours long lines for money
Akbar described a scene in which an already overcrowded camp went hell after testing 35 residents positive for COVID, leading to a total lockdown of the facilities. For many, “facilities” are simply tents and plastic wrap.
Sanctions were imposed that could keep a family standing in line for hours to obtain food rations – and this changed the camp’s already existing food situation and chaos. Restrictions included shutting down the ATM machine. While the machine was still running, long lines remained in front of it, as these pictures appear from May:
—Mortza (@mortazabehoudi) May 14, 2020
The bank machine was the only way Moria residents could withdraw or receive money, as the camp is beyond walking distance to the nearest town. Such simple tasks – such as obtaining food, soap, or diapers – suddenly became very difficult, and the camp relied on a flawed official handout system, sources told Insider.
People started to panic because they could not get money to buy the things they needed.
“The ATM machine was closed, so there was no money to buy food, no shops opened,” Akbar said. “And sometimes you won’t get the food they offer. Families were hungry and the children needed milk,” he said.
The protests, which had become commonplace in the thousands, remained stuck in the island camp for years, with officials aiming to reopen the bank, streamline food distribution and move some families away from the island to reduce congestion Was.
Some youth began to lighten up small protests.
“The fire came from young boys not adults, some of them have no parents or family to control. They were causing trouble with the police,” Akbar said, in an account This has been confirmed by several other witnesses.
Moriah is set among olive trees on a windscreen hill – and the wind quickly carried the flames into areas filled with plastic tents. It spread to propane gas canisters used by most families for cooking.
Greek authorities have promised to deport those who lit the fire and said they had opened an investigation.
As of Wednesday, officials had begun plans to move hundreds of untrained minors to facilities on the mainland. Thus far, they have refused permission for the now homeless refugees away from the island.
‘They want us to leave the island and we want to leave the island’
Suddenly homeless to house more than 10,000 people – in many cases sleeping on farms and streets – Greece announced that a new facility would be built and refugees would be sent on ferries and naval vessels.
Island residents have complained for months about the facility. They were told that it would be temporary more than five years ago. This week they engaged in a series of riots and skirmishes with riot police dispatched from Athens to prevent any “temporary” solution.
“They want us to leave the island and we want to leave the island,” Akbar said.
To donate to a relief fund for migrants in Greece, visit the website for Médecins Sans Frontières.