Thousands homeless after camp Moria fire: Where can we go?

Last night, for the second time in a short space of time, a fire broke out in the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos. The people who were still there also had to flee. CCeit editor Heleen D’Haens is on the island and saw how many of them spent the night outside, for example on the side of the road near the camp.

She spoke to an Afghan boy whose tent was burned down. He said it was difficult to sleep because it was windy and cold. “They were with a group of several young children,” says D’Haens in the CCeit Radio 1 News. “The weather here is quite nice, but there is a lot of wind. Without protection it was pretty cold to sleep there.”

This morning Heleen D’Haens walked through the burned down Moria camp and filmed what she saw:

There is a question she is most often asked by the people she speaks to: ‘When are we going to get a place, Mrs, where can we go? Some people told her that they would like to walk on to the capital today. Others say they want to wait until they are allocated an alternative camp.

D’Haens describes the chaos she sees and the ignorance that reigns among the people. “There are a lot of people here now, I understand it’s difficult to accommodate all these people.” The Greek Government wants to try to ensure that the migrants do not have to sleep outside for several days.

There are dozens of policemen at the place where several hundred people spent the night. “It is being ensured that they do not go to the larger towns and villages. One reason is that the police fear violence, another important reason is that they fear an outbreak of the coronavirus’

Accommodation in tents, on ferries and naval ships

400 underage and unaccompanied refugees flew over to the mainland. Last night there was a flight and this morning there was a second flight. “They were taken to hotels yesterday after the fire”, says correspondent Conny Keessen from Athens in the CCeit Radio 1 News. “All the other thousands of asylum seekers who have fled Moria will have to stay on the island

For those who are left behind, a plan has been drawn up by the Greek Minister for Migration. “The plan is for them to be housed in tents, on board a ferry and two naval ships,” explains Keessen. “This will, of course, be a huge operation. The government, for example, wants to accommodate about a thousand vulnerable refugees who stayed in containers in the camp on that ferry, but they are now scattered throughout the area around Camp Moria

Refugee organisation UNHCR is working with the municipality and the government to arrange accommodation for the people made homeless by the fire. Yesterday, family tents, sleeping bags and mattresses arrived. The intention was to set them up in the area next to the camp that was not destroyed by the first fire. However, the second fire destroyed most of that area.

“We have 400 family tents and more are being sent,’ says Theodoros Alexellis, UNHCR spokesman. “But because of last night’s fire, we don’t know where to put them now. We are in consultation with the municipality and the government to get the green light for a site” Alexellis says the fires have left between 10 000 and 11 000 people homeless.