Refugees flee as fires engulf migrant camp in Greece


Thousands of migrants are in need of emergency shelter after fires tore through Greece’s largest refugee camp on the Island of Lesbos.

The blaze broke out after midnight in more than three places at the overcrowded Moria camp.

About 25 firefighters with 10 engines battled the flames as migrants were evacuated.  More than 12,000 people are said to be without accommodation, and authorities are struggling to find them shelter.

There are no reports of injuries, and the cause of the blazes remain unclear. However, local reports claim the fires were started deliberately as a protest against lockdown measures recently imposed in the camp.

The camp was put under quarantine last week after a Somali resident contracted coronavirus.

Police cordoned off roads leading from the camp to prevent fleeing migrants entering nearby towns.

Officials have not confirmed reports that protesters caused the fire – but firefighters have said they were met with “some resistance”.

“There was not just one but many fires in the camp. Migrants threw stones at firefighters trying to put out the fires. The cause is under investigation,” fire brigade chief Constantine Theophilopoulos told ERT TV.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas has called the blaze a “humanitarian disaster” and tweeted about “the distribution of refugees among those willing to accept admission in the EU”.

Lesbos was Europe’s busiest crossing point in 2015-16 for mass movement of refugees – many fleeing war in Syria and the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq.

This wave of migration led to Greece setting up several makeshift camps across the country and on its many islands, with the help of European Union funding.

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