The Moria migrant camp, destroyed by flames on Wednesday, was a “time bomb”, sad illustration of the inability of Europeans to agree on a common migration policy, denounces the international press.
In Moria, migrants “Lived in cramped tents, with limited access to toilets, showers and medical care”, according to New York Times. “For years, human rights defenders have warned that these sordid accommodation conditions will sooner or later lead to humanitarian disaster”.
The disaster announced eventually happened: while the disaster apparently did not kill anybody, the 13,000 migrants – including a quarter of children – who crowded in the camp are now homeless, after two fires have reduced installations to ashes.
The first fire, which occurred in the early hours, was allegedly caused by refugees protesting against their quarantine, after the discovery of new cases of Covid-19 in the camp. The causes of the second fire, which occurred in the evening, and of lesser magnitude, are still unknown.
For the New York daily, “The camp and its abandoned residents are synonymous with the continent’s growing antipathy towards refugees”.
“Anyone who has visited Moria in recent years knew that it was a time bomb about to explode, a reflection of the inability of Greek and European authorities to deal with migratory flows”, add The country in echo.
Already in 2016, a fire had led to the evacuation of 4,500 refugees. “But no action had been taken”, denounces the Spanish daily. “We continued to set up tents and containers, the Moria camp spread to the surrounding olive groves, and the population continued to grow”. At the height of the crisis, 20,000 refugees were piling up in a camp originally built for 2,800 people.
“Last year there was another fire, and two people died”, continues the Madrid daily. “The refugees protested, the police intervened, and once again nothing was done”.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis himself admitted on Wednesday that “The situation in Moria cannot continue. It is at the same time a question of public health, of humanitarian policy, and of national security ”, he said.
“It is clear that we need new facilities, which are safer, of an adequate size, and offering more humane accommodation conditions”, added the Minister of Immigration, Panagiotis Mitarachis, sure CNN.
Greece moored a ferry at the port of Mytilene to provide emergency accommodation to the most fragile refugees, while Unicef and the European Union have pledged to take care of the 400 unaccompanied children present in the camp. Authorities have also started distributing tents, but thousands of migrants will remain homeless for several days.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, declared herself “Deeply saddened by the events of last night” and assured Greece of “support” the Commission and the Member States, report The Corriere della Sera.
But for years Greece has been unsuccessfully asking for help from its European partners to solve the puzzle of its refugee camps. The European cacophony was also heard from Wednesday.
Germany, which currently chairs the European Union, asked through the voice of its Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, “The distribution of refugees” within the European Union, to respond to the “Humanitarian catastrophe”, according to BBC. But Austria and the Netherlands have already said no. France declared “Ready to take part in solidarity”, but without quantified commitment.
But in the streets of Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg and Frankfurt, several thousand Germans demanded the opening of the borders and the reception of refugees, testify the Southgerman newspaper. “We have room!”, could we read on the signs.