Greece: Police move more homeless migrants to new tent camp

Greece Police move refugees to new Lesbos camp after Moria fire

Greece Police move refugees to new Lesbos camp after Moria fire

Authorities said the fires were set deliberately by a small group of migrants angered by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions imposed after an outbreak in the camp.

A Greek police operation is under way on the island of Lesbos to move thousands of migrants and refugees left homeless after a fire destroyed their overcrowded camp into a new facility on the island.

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Of the 5,000 people moved to a new army-built camp on the island, 135 so far have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.

Eight organisations providing legal assistance to migrants on Thursday noted that although asylum processes had begun anew, lawyers had not been given access to the new camp.

The number now in shelter is more than half the 12,000 people who have been sleeping by roads, in parking lots and even inside a local cemetery for over a week.

"We understand the operation proceeds smoothly and no use of force or incidents of violence were reported", the agency said.

"Here on the street it is a risk for security, for public health and it's not dignified", Ms Castelein said.

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The new camp consists of large family tents erected in a field by the sea.

From Wednesday night, it had a capacity of approximately 8,000 people, according to the United Nations refugee agency, but just around 1,100 largely vulnerable individuals had entered.

"The aim is to safeguard public health", police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos told AFP, confirming that "an operation is under way" which "responds to humanitarian aims".

Medical tents were to be set up, and two quarantine zones were planned for the several dozen people who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which opened an emergency clinic in the area, said they were initially barred from accessing the facility during the night. The European Union is preparing to issue proposals next week for a major overhaul of the 27-nation bloc's migration policies.

Speaking at a debate in the European Parliament on the situation in Greece, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said that "there can be no more Morias", and that it was time for a fresh start on migration.

Adding, "everybody has to step up here and take responsibility - and the commission will do just that... but I want to be clear: if we step up, then I expect all (EU) member states to step up, too". Geir Moulson in Berlin and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed.

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