UN calls for mass evacuation of ‘hellish’ migrant camp on Greek island of Lesbos
The United Nations called for migrants crammed into a squalid camp on the Greek island of Lesbos to be immediately transferred to the mainland, following a fire in which a woman and a child were killed.
The UN’s refugee agency said the situation in the notorious Moria camp, where 13,000 people are living in a facility designed for 3,000, is “critical”.
“We are calling to accelerate the transfers and improve conditions in Moria,” said Boris Cheshirkov, UNHCR’s spokesman in Greece.
The mayor of Lesbos also said asylum seekers needed to be moved off the island, which lies in sight of the Turkish coast.
Stratos Kytelis demanded the “immediate decongestion of our islands and for borders to be guarded”.
The population of Moria has oscillated over the years as large groups are transferred to the Greek mainland, usually by ferry, only to be replaced by more asylum seekers crossing by sea from Turkey.
Clashes erupted between asylum seekers and Greek police on Sunday evening, after the blaze broke out in some of the shipping containers in which many migrants are housed.
A woman and child died in the fire and at least 17 people were hurt.
Police fired tear gas to control furious asylum seekers, who accused the authorities of taking too long to respond to the blaze. Police reinforcements were flown to Lesbos in Hercules transport planes.
There were reports that as many as two children may have died in the fire.