Huge fire destroys refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos
Almost 13,000 asylum seekers have been left homeless by a blaze, reportedly started by migrants unhappy at being isolated by COVID19 rules in the Moria camp. Fires broke out in three places and were whipped up by strong winds which spread the flames quickly through the camp, the largest on Lesbos. There are also reports that wildfires were already burning in the area and some suggest far right Greeks were involved with igniting the fire. Lesbos project co-ordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Marco Sandrone, told the BBC that determining the cause of the blaze was difficult with “several different fires and protests erupting in the camp” but that it was a “time bomb that finally exploded”.
The camp was over four times its maximum capacity and had been criticised by aid agencies for its “appalling conditions”. Thousands of people are now sleeping on the streets, with no protection from the elements and many families have lost the little belongings they had, fleeing with just the clothes on their backs. NGOs have been prevented by police from transporting people to hospitals and a cordon has been set up around the camp, preventing aid workers from getting in.
Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said a state of emergency had been declared for all of Lesbos and the EU commissioner for home affairs has offered to arrange funding for the transfer of 400 unaccompanied minors to the Greek mainland. Meanwhile, the UNHCR and Doctors Without Borders have offered their assistance while officials are seeking tents to accommodate the thousands displaced and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has pledged to take in 1,000 of the refugees.
Just the day before, campaigners had placed 13,000 chairs outside the German parliament building, in a symbolic protest at conditions at the Moria camp, calling for its closure. The camp is designed to hold just 2,800. In total, there are 24,000 people in five camps on Greek islands that were built to house just 6,100. There are no immediate reports of casualties.
Other stories making the headlines around the world
- UN General Assembly continues to serve the people, under extraordinary circumstances (UN News)
- International literacy day celebrates educators (UN News)
- 7th September – First World Clean Air Day (UN News)
- Burkina Faso: Over half a million children malnourished (UN News)
- Mozambique: Torture by security forces must be investigated (Amnesty International)
- Thousands homeless as Sudan battles floods (Al Jazeera)
- The US should shun autocrats and re-embrace human rights (Human Rights Watch)
- Latin American activists fight for access to safe abortions (Amnesty International)
- Women take over human rights office in Mexico (NBC)
- Inaction has been fatal, says UNHCR, as dozens of Rohingya refugees die at sea (UN news)
- UN urged to set up watchdog to investigate China’s human rights violations (The Independent)
- Afghanistan: Victims must be heard in peace talks (Amnesty International)
- Australian journalists forced to leave China (Human Rights Watch)
- Human Rights groups call on the IOC to strip China of 2022 Winter Olympics (The Independent)
- Council of Europe issues press freedom alert after UK blacklists site over its coverage of the war in Yemen (Middle East Eye)
- London listed Petra Diamonds accused of human rights abuses (The Telegraph)