Photographs Present Greece Refugee Camp Fireplace Aftermath

Fires have devastated Europe’s largest migrant camp and left around 12,000 people homeless.

Fanned by strong winds, the fire broke out on Tuesday in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. Large parts of the camp burned down. According to the New York Times, only one medical facility and a few small groups of tents were available. Initially, no deaths were reported.

The fires lasted until Wednesday and left most of the camp’s residents homeless. Al Jazeera said police reinforcements were deployed to prevent people fleeing the fires from reaching the island’s main town, Mytilene. The residents of the camp, including many refugees from Afghanistan or Syria, had to sleep on the roadsides, in fields and in parking lots.

The notoriously overcrowded warehouse was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear how the fires started. The Greek authorities said the fires may have started in protest against mandatory quarantine measures. Some migrants told the BBC that the fires broke out after brawls between campers and Greek armed forces, blaming “right-wing Greeks” for the fire.

Human rights groups warned the camp was not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic because it was dangerously overcrowded and had no access to water, health care and sanitation. The residents protested against the appalling living conditions.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on the European Union to take measures to resolve the real estate crisis. France, Germany and the Netherlands have so far offered to take in some migrants.

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