'We don't want another Moria', say Lesvos migrants

Homeless refugees lament being forced to stay on Greek island

15 September, 16:04

    (ANSAMed) - ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 14 - Thousands of refugees and migrants who were left homeless last week by huge fires which destroyed the Moria reception center where they were staying are pleading for an alternative solution to staying on the island.

    Over 12,000 people, including families with small children, have been living in makeshift tents on the side of busy roads and in nearby fields for five days following the devastating blazes which ripped through the Moria facility.

    Greece's Prime Minister has promised that "a new, permanent migrant reception centre on Lesvos" will replace the overcrowded and squalid refugee camp destroyed last week - calling for closer European involvement, while Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis has also ruled out the transfer of people to the mainland, indicating that such a move could spark unrest at camps on other islands.

    A temporary camp has already been set up on an army firing range to provide shelter for those sleeping rough, with the priority given to families with children, while the government continues to plan to build a new reception and identification center, one where residents will not be allowed to come and go freely, thus bolstering the sense of security among locals on Lesvos.

    But, for all of these efforts in the wake of a truly miserable situation, the answer on the ground from refugees in Lesvos is that they would rather be anywhere else but there.

    "We do not have food, we do not have much water, but we prefer the road to the camp," said a group of Afghans, quoted by Greek national newspaper EFSYN. The migrants added that they "do not trust the police".

    "I have been in Lesvos for two years, now I finally want to go to Athens or Thessaloniki, where there are jobs and we can find a house," EFSYN quoted a 30-year-old Afghan man named Sahram as saying.

    Miserable scenes of babies and toddlers sleeping on the side of the streets have shocked the world and brought Lesvos and Greece into the spotlight once more concerning the ongoing migrant crisis.

    And the situation is not changing quickly. The army are handing out food and water but there is also a heavy police presence with skirmishes breaking out between groups of migrants and riot forces. The police continue to stop migrants from moving towards the main town of Mytilene, even using tear gas over the weekend.

    Until late on Sunday night, approximately 350 tents with a capacity of 6-8 people each were set up in the new center with the assistance of the army, from a total of 600 tents which were donated by the UNHCR.

    In parallel, there's also the troublesome situation with positive Covid-19 cases - the cause of the initial trouble and fires.

    Before the fires broke out, 35 positive cases had been confirmed, and then when restrictive measures were put in place, the camp was set on fire. Up until Sunday evening, there were 12 fresh positive Covid-19 cases confirmed, and all of the people have been quarantined.(ANSAmed). (ANSA).

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