Thousands homeless after Greek migrant camp fire

Thousands of migrants were left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday (September 9) after fires overnight engulfed their overcrowded camp.

Authorities are also worried that some asylum seekers who tested positive for COVID-19 could spread the virus. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

Athens declared a state of emergency on the island and sent in police reinforcements.

The Moria camp holds more than 12,000 people.

It was placed under quarantine last week after an asylum seeker tested positive for COVID-19.

Deputy Migration Minister George Koumoutsakos says about 3,000 migrants would now be temporarily housed in tents.

But like Yaser from Afghanistan, many Moria camp migrants have nowhere to go.

"We don't know where to go, and all the refugees are outside, and trying to find a place to at least just stay."

The cause of the fires was not yet known but authorities were investigating whether they were started deliberately.

Initial reports suggested the fires broke out at different locations in the sprawling camp after authorities tried to isolate some individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR said it had received reports of tensions between people in neighboring villages and asylum seekers who were trying to reach the town of Mytilini.

A Greek government spokesman said camp residents would not be allowed to leave Lesbos due to the pandemic.

But the European Union has agreed to fund the immediate transfer of 400 unaccompanied children and teenagers to the Greek mainland.

Germany has also offered assistance to Greece but an Interior Ministry spokesman said Berlin quote "does not intend to change the current principle on taking refugees".

Video Transcript

- Thousands of migrants were left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday after fires overnight engulfed their overcrowded camp. Authorities are also worried that some asylum seekers who tested positive for COVID-19 could spread the virus. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

Athens declared a state of emergency on the island and sent in police reinforcements. The Moria camp holds more than 12,000 people. It was placed under quarantine last week after an asylum seeker tested positive for COVID-19.

Deputy Migration Minister George Koumoutsakos says about 3,000 migrants would now be temporarily housed in tents. But like Yaser from Afghanistan, many Moria camp migrants have nowhere to go.

- We don't know where to go, and the refugees are outside and trying to find a place to at least just stay.

- The cause of a fire was not yet known, but authorities were investigating whether they were started deliberately. Initial reports suggested the fires broke out at different locations in the sprawling camp after authorities tried to isolate some individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR said it had received reports of tensions between people in neighboring villages and asylum seekers who were trying to reach the town of Mytilini. A Greek government spokesman said camp residents would not be allowed to leave Lesbos, due to the pandemic. But the European Union has agreed to fund the immediate transfer of 400 unaccompanied children and teenagers to the Greek mainland.

Germany has also offered assistance to Greece. But an interior ministry spokesman said Berlin, quote, "does not intend to change the current principle on taking refugees."