Lesbos migrant camp fire leaves thousands without shelter

SHOTLIST LESBOS ISLAND, GREECESEPTEMBER 10, 2020SOURCE: AFPTV 1. Aerial shot Moria camp2. Aerial shot Moria camp3. Wide shot Moria camp 4. SOUNDBITE 1 - Abdul Karim Sheihdip, Migrant from Syria (male, English, 16 sec): "All the camp has burnt. Zone nine, zone six, all tents. Now we don’t have any food, any tents. We sleep on the road. It is very, very bad. " 5. Wide shot a man carrying bottles of water as he walks through Moria camp6. Wide shot a burnt car in Moria camp 7. Wide shot the remains of a tent as fire still smoulders 8. SOUNDBITE 2 - Kalid Smayr, Migrant from Iraq (male, 15 years old, English, 11 sec): "We have, I think, let me tell you, 300 families, I lie, much on that number, sleeping on the street, not have food, not have anything. Go inside Moria, if you find water you drink. If you don’t find you stay thirsty. You stay hungry. This situation is tragic. " 9. Mid shot people walking through what's left of Moria Camp ///-----------------------------------------------------------2 DEPECHES DE CONTEXTE: Moving Moria migrants is humanitarian imperative: Red CrossGeneva, Sept 10, 2020 (AFP) - Evacuating migrants from Lesbos and the other Greek islands is now a "humanitarian imperative" for the EU following the fire at Moria camp, the Red Cross said Thursday.Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said containing migrants for years on the Greek islands was no solution to the crisis.The fire on Tuesday at Greece's largest migrant camp destroyed the official part of the Moria facility, which housed 4,000 people. A second blaze on Wednesday destroyed most of the remaining camp where another 8,000 lived in tents and makeshift shacks around the perimeter."There is an urgent need to move migrants from the Greek islands to the mainland," Rocca told a virtual press conference in Geneva.Following the fire, "evacuating migrants out of the Greek islands is no longer an option -- it is a humanitarian imperative. "Thousands of people are living in unacceptable conditions on the Greek islands."This is a European crisis which requires concrete acts of solidarity by EU member states. Simply containing people is not the solution."Lesbos is the main port of entry for arrivals in EU member state Greece because of its close proximity to Turkey. The Moria camp was several times over its official capacity.Rocca visited the camp in early March as the Covid-19 crisis took off in Europe.He said the situation there was "desperate", with some refugees stuck in Moria for four to six years."No human being should live in the conditions in an overcrowded camp like in Moria," he said.He said Moria was "something that must end", saying it could be a transit facility where migrants stay for a few days before being moved onwards into the European Union.Thousands of Moria asylum seekers were camping on roadsides on Thursday.Rocca said they were now in a "terrible situation"."Local people, NGOs, the Red Cross, everyone is doing their utmost. But for how long?" he said."We must speed up the move of these people from the island."Rocca was speaking as the Geneva-based IFRC launched its "Least Protected, Most Affected" report on the risks facing migrants and refugees during the Covid-19 pandemic.It called for all migrants to have access to essential health care without fear of arrest, detention or deportation, including Covid-19 testing, tracing, education and treatment.rjm/gd ------------------------------------------------------------- newseriesGreece races to shelter thousands after Lesbos migrant camp fire By Marina RAFENBERG with John HADOULIS in Athens =(Picture+Video+Graphic)= ATTENTION - ADDS survivor quotes, Greek president ///Lesbos Island, Greece, Sept 10, 2020 (AFP) - Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos were camping on roadsides on Thursday after the country's largest camp burnt down, with officials racing to locate shelter and avert a health crisis.Desperate families, many with young children, spent a second night in the open, many without tents or even basic bedding."We've lost everything, we were abandoned, without food, water or medicine," said Fatma Al-Hani, a Syrian woman who barely had time to grab her identity papers before the flames engulfed the camp.Some of the bleary-eyed homeless had to trek to the nearest villages for water and other supplies, AFP TV footage showed.The fire late on Tuesday at Moria camp, Greece's most notorious migrant facility, sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves.Gaelle Koukanee, a pregnant 21-year-old Congolese refugee, said the police had fired tear gas during the operation to extinguish the fire."We have children, old people, disabled among us. Why this lack of humanity," she asked, seeking shelter from the beating sun under an olive tree.Greek officials, who have declared a four-month emergency on the island and flow in extra riot police, said officers were sent to protect firefighters from asylum seekers who threw stones at them While nobody was seriously hurt, the blaze destroyed the official part of the camp, which housed 4,000 people, ministers said. A second fire late on Wednesday destroyed most of the remaining camp where another 8,000 lived in tents and makeshift shacks around the perimeter, the migration ministry said Thursday.The ministry said a ferry had been sent to accommodate hundreds of people ahead of the expected arrival of European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas to inspect conditions on the island."Today all necessary actions will be taken to immediately shelter families and vulnerable persons to begin with," the ministry said.Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said the administration food would be provided "in cooperation with humanitarian groups" at migrant gathering points. - President's plea - Two Greek navy vessels would provide additional sleeping space, the ministry said.But plans to build new temporary camps have run into local resistance, junior migration minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos said."We are facing difficulty from local authorities and local society (over where to) put tents to house these people," he told SKAI TV.Earlier this year, a plan to build a new camp on Lesbos stalled after locals clashed with riot police to prevent the construction.Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Thursday said the situation had to be addressed without "delays, responsibility-dodging, war cries"."And mainly, Europe cannot turn a blind eye. The refugee and migration issue is primarily a European problem," she said in a statement.The government said it had sent three flights to remove 406 unaccompanied minors from the island and rehouse them in "safe" facilities in northern Greece, adding that all had been tested for the virus.Migration minister Notis Mitarachi on Wednesday said asylum seekers had started the fire because of quarantine measures imposed after 35 people at the camp tested positive for coronavirus.Greece's public health authority EODY said eight of the 35 positive cases had been located and isolated along with a significant number of their close contacts.Medical staff from the World Health Organization are expected in Lesbos on Thursday to begin tests on asylum seekers and locals, EODY chief Panagiotis Arkoumaneas told reporters on Wednesday. - Tough restrictions - European countries from Germany to Norway -- along with EU chiefs -- have responded with offers of help as calls intensify for urgent reform of the bloc's asylum system.Since becoming one of the main gateways into Europe for migrants and asylum seekers in 2015, Greece has built dozens of detention centres around the country.But with other European nations accepting only a small trickle of refugees, thousands remain trapped in the Greek camps in usually dismal health conditions."I haven't seen a doctor in weeks," said the Congolese refugee."We lacked toilets, showers and as women, we were afraid to walk at night. But now I'm even more worried about my future," she said.Greece's conservative government has also toughened its asylum restrictions, slashing cash benefits and accommodation provisions to discourage further migration."This is Europe?" asked Fatma, clutching her two-year-old son."I've had enough, I just want my baby to grow up in peace," she said, breaking down in tears.mr-jph/jxb -------------------------------------------------------------