Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece expressed his “deepest sorrow” over the destruction of the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos.
“It is time for the European Union to assume its responsibilities and contribute effectively to the safeguarding and protection of its own eastern borders, always with respect for the value and dignity of each individual,” the leader of Greece’s Orthodox Church said.
“Our Church stands, as always, by the side of the competent and responsible Greek state and puts its services and bodies at its disposal for whatever is required,” the archbishop continued, adding that the church’s mission has always been to “stand beside every persecuted individual, every weak fellow human being, every refugee.”
Archbishop Ieronymos also referred to a “devious plan for unacceptable, immoral and inhuman weaponisation and exploitation of desperate refugees and migrants,” with all that this entails for the country’s national security, and hit out at Turkey for increasing tensions in the Aegean with its multiple transgressions.
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.
Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis also called for the immediate deportation of any residents of camp who may have contributed to the fire.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the launch of a Germany-France initiative for the reception of unaccompanied refugee minors that lived at the Moria hotspot prior to the devastating fire.
She made the announcement during a Berlin news conference on Thursday.
"Germany and France will surely join, and I hope other EU member states join too," she said.
The Chancellor estimated that the Moria tragedy should propel EU countries to "finally," as she pointed out, reach a common migration policy, which today "does not exist," she noted.