Thousands of homeless Moria camp residents will be temporarily housed in boats, navy ships & tents

A passenger ferry and two Navy landing ships will accommodate about 2,000 refugees who are homeless after the fire at Moria, Migration & Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi  said.

On Tuesday night, a fire broke out at Moria Camp on the island of Lesvos at approximately 2 am after clashes began when some of the 35 refugees who tested positive for Covid-19 refused to move into isolation with their families.

The island of Lesvos was declared in state of emergency for four months, by order of Deputy Civil Protection and Management Crises Minister Nikos Hardalias and the general secretary of civil protection Vassilis Papageorgiou.

The minister added that Moria camp’s “administration premises, the premises of the Asylum Service and other administrative facilities were destroyed. Also, the new health unit’s intensive care area was burnt, while the accommodation areas of the camp’s general population, although extensively damaged, will be repaired.”

During the fire, as he said, the priority was “the transfer of unaccompanied minors to an area outside the structure and its evacuation, to protect the lives of residents and staff, while at the same time to take all necessary security measures.”

Mitarachi added that “so far, no injuries, casualties or missing persons have been reported.”

“400 unaccompanied minors from the camp are being transferred away from Lesvos island. There are 3,500 asylum seekers whose living quarters were destroyed by the fire and we are taking emergency measures for them. First of all, the most vulnerable, about 1,000 people, will spend the night, as of today, onboard a ship, which is expected to arrive at the port of Mytilini late Wednesday, and which is provided free-of-charge by the shipping company Blue Star Ferries, which we thank for its kind offer,” he continued.

The unaccompanied children will be flown to Thessaloniki. The flights were arranged by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), whose staff will accompany the children; they are funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the Special Secretariat for Unaccompanied Minors of the Ministry of Migration & Asylum.

Two navy landing ships are expected to arrive on Thursday, to be used for temporary accommodation, while for the remaining residents “tents will be installed in Moria that will be distributed to asylum seekers.”

The minister also stressed that the redistribution of Moria refugees and asylum seekers to other EU member states is a request of the Greek government, and is already been discussed at EU-level.

EODY President Panagiotis Arkoumaneas mentioned the implementation of a large number of coronavirus detection tests on refugees and local permanent residents, the strengthening of the Emergency Response Ambulance Service (EKAB), the operational readiness of the Mytilini General Hospital, and also said that, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, authorities will significantly increase the number of doctors and nurses in refugee accommodation structures, “so as to enhance the sense of security.”

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his country’s support to Greece.

The EU is ready to provide support after the fire at Moria, the President of the European Council Charles Michel said on Wednesday.

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