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Refugees, Migrants Burned Out of Moria Camp Resist New Facility

Αssociated Press

Children play as thousands migrants remained camped out along a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Despite warnings police will force them to move into a new temporary camp after a fire razed the notorious Moria center on Lesbos, thousands of refugees and migrants are still resisting and want off the island altogether.

Only about 1,200, or 10 percent of the 12,500 left homeless when the camp burned moved into the temporarily facility at Kara Tepe near the island’s port of Mytilini, which was ready to host at least 5,000.

“They are still reluctant,” said a police official on condition of anonymity, reported Kathimerini. “Negotiations are ongoing,” the official said but many refugees and migrants say they're weary of being on the island two years or more waiting for asylum applications to be processed and want off.

Most of them have been sleeping rough since the fire, on streets, sidewalks, in graveyards, parks, benches, and supermarket parking lots with worry about COVID-19 spreading and belief the fire was started in reaction to a quarantine.

Most of the refugees are from Afghanistan, Africa and Syria and were left without shelter, toilets or access to food and water by the fire ripped through the camp.

Authorities distributed flyers and sent text messages to migrants trying to convince them to move into the new tents, officials said. One said migrants hoped to be allowed to leave the island and believed that living conditions in the temporary camp would be no better than at Moria, which aid groups had called unfit for humans and largely unimproved during the five years it was open.

Six migrants were arrested over the Moria blaze. Another blaze, which broke out overnight near another migrant camp on the island of Samos, was put under control and three people were arrested on charges.