Greek police on Thursday began moving hundreds of migrants stranded on the island of Lesbos to a new temporary camp. It comes more than a week after a fire razed Moria, Greece’s biggest refugee camp, to the ground.
“The operation began with many officers in white body suits, things are calm and migrants are slowly streaming into the new camp,” a Reuters witness said.
The operation to move the refugees to a makeshift accommodation at Kara Tepe involved 70 female police officers. Authorities said it was necessary to protect public health.
Panagiotis Arkoumaneas, head of the Greek Health Authority (EODY), said the government must move the stranded people into the new camp. “In terms of hygiene, you are a time bomb if you stay on the street,” he said.
As of Thursday, 35 refugees have been tested positive for the novel coronavirus and had been placed in isolation, according to the migration ministry.
The operation has so far been peaceful, according to Gerhard Trabert, a German doctor who was on the site with an aid organization. Trabert estimates there are still several thousand people in and around the destroyed camp.
The fire at the Moria facility, Greece’s biggest migrant camp, left more than 12,000 people, mostly from Afghanistan, Syria and various African countries, without shelter, proper sanitation or access to food and water.
Greek authorities said the fire was started by migrants. Security forces on Tuesday arrested six young Afghan migrants on suspicion of arson.
Many of the 11,000 asylum seekers who fled the camp last week have been sleeping rough on Lesbos since September 9.
A large number of migrants have refused to enter the new facility, demanding asylum to other EU countries or better living conditions.
Authorities were able to move only 1,200 refugees to the new camp early on Wednesday, but by late evening large groups of migrants stared streaming in with their belongings.
Greek officials said they would continue “for some more days in good faith and communication” to convince the migrants to enter the new camp, saying their transfer would be completed within a few days.
shs/rt (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
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