x

Society

Just 800 of Greek Island’s 12,500 Homeless Migrants Rehoused

September 14, 2020

ATHENS — Just over 6% of the 12,500 people left homeless last week by the fire that destroyed Greece's biggest camp for refugees and migrants have been rehoused in a new temporary facility under construction on the island of Lesbos, authorities said Monday.

By Monday afternoon, about 800 people had entered the new tent city, hastily set up by the sea a few kilometers from the gutted Moria camp, migration ministry officials said. 

Thousands remained camped out for a sixth day along a road leading from Moria to the island capital of Mytilene, with police blocking the way into town to prevent asylum-seekers trying to board ferries for the Greek mainland instead of entering the new camp.

Authorities say the blazes last Tuesday and Wednesday in Moria, where thousands of people arrive every year after crossing illegally from nearby Turkey, were started by camp residents angry at quarantine orders imposed after 35 people in the facility tested positive for COVID-19. 

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said there's space for about 5,000 people so far in the new camp, on a former military firing range at Kara Tepe near Mytilene. He also said everyone left homeless by the Moria fire will be able to relocate to Kara Tepe within the next few days.

Officials said the gap between available spaces and residents in the new camp is largely due to the unwillingness of many asylum-seekers to settle in. Many had hoped that with Moria destroyed they would be allowed to head for the Greek mainland, or even other European Union countries.

Several hundred women and children held a protest march along the Moria-to-Mytilene road Monday, chanting: "No camp, freedom."

But government officials said the only way for former Moria camp residents to leave Lesbos would be to move to the new facility and successfully apply there for asylum.

"Moving to the new camp is not optional, it's obligatory," Mitarachi said in an interview with Parapolitika Radio.

Under EU rules, people reaching Greece's eastern Aegean islands from Turkey must stay in camps at their points of arrival pending examination of their asylum bids. This led to overcrowding and squalid living conditions for camp residents that were repeatedly criticised by human rights organizations. It also triggered resentment among Lesbos' Greek population.

Asylum-seekers entering Kara Tepe are tested for COVID-19 as part of the registration process, and 15 infected people have been recorded so far. All were moved to isolation facilities.

Greece's minister responsible for public order, Michalis Chryssohoidis, said Monday he hoped a continued reduction in migration flows from nearby Turkey and a speedy processing of asylum applications should mean the last of the refugees and migrants currently on Lesbos would have left by spring.

Greek authorities plan to build a new facility for future arrivals that will replace Moria.

RELATED

ATHENS - The politically volatile European Parliament elections, a time during which no candidate wants to make waves, has led to Greece temporarily setting aside development of wind farm projects that had been viewed as essential to developing sustainable sources.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

If an uninformed person had attended the Mitsotakis-Erdogan press conference a few days ago in Ankara, s/he could have come to the conclusion that the meeting was planned in order to discuss whether Hamas is a terrorist or a patriotic organization.

As part of a club documentary offering an inside view of his final days at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp was asked by the filmmakers to stand alone on The Kop one afternoon and gaze out around Anfield.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — In 2018, Chad McGehee opened Side Hustle Brews and Spirits, an Abu Dhabi-branded brewery and distillery with funky camels on its cans and playful names familiar to anyone living in the United Arab Emirates.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Israel strongly denied charges of genocide on Friday, telling the United Nations’ top court it was doing everything it could to protect the civilian population during its military operation in Gaza.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.