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By Isaac Newton Tetteh – GITFIConline.com
Fire has destroyed Greece’s largest migrant camp‘Moria’ on the island of Lesbos.
About 25 firefighters with 10 engines battled the flames as migrants were evacuated. Some suffered injuries from smoke exposure.
It is unclear how the fires began, with some blaming the migrants and others blaming Greek locals.
Police cordoned off roads leading from the camp to prevent fleeing migrants entering nearby towns.
Thousands are now without accommodation, whilst authorities struggle to find them shelter.
German foreign minister Heiko Maas has called the blaze a “humanitarian disaster” and tweeted about “the distribution of refugees among those willing to accept admission in the EU sub region.
Meanwhile some locals are reported to have attacked and prevented migrants from passing through a nearby village after they fled the flames.
A statement issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR)at the UN refugee agency, said it was aware of “tensions” between nearby townsfolk and the migrants.
“We urge all to exercise restraint,” it said, and asked anyone who had been at the camp “to restrict their movements and stay near [the site], as a temporary solution is being found to shelter them.”
Moria is home to nearly 13,000 people, more than four times the number it can officially hold. about 70% of people in the camp are from Afghanistan but migrants from more than 70 different countries live there.
Lesbos deputy governor ArisHatzikomninos reportedly told local radio the camp had been “completely destroyed”. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called an emergency meeting on the fire on Wednesday morning, and several ministers are now heading to Lesbos to assess the situation.
The EU has offered to help with the response. European Commission Vice-President MargaritisSchinas said he had spoken to MrMitsotakis and that the commission was “ready to assist Greece directly at all levels during these difficult times”.