Riots break out at Greek refugee camp after two migrants die in fire

At least 17 injured in clashes with police

Samuel Osborne
Monday 30 September 2019 19:14
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A fire broke out inside a shipping container which Greek authorities use to house refugees
A fire broke out inside a shipping container which Greek authorities use to house refugees

A riot broke out at an overcrowded refugee camp in Greece following a deadly fire.

At least two people died at the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on Sunday after a fire began inside a shipping container, which Greek authorities use to house refugees.

Asylum seekers demanding to be transferred to the Greek mainland clashed with police, who fired tear gas at the crowd, and at least 17 people were hurt.

Moria, the country’s largest refugee camp, is operating at nearly four times its capacity.

The charred remains of a woman were transferred to a local hospital, the health ministry said. Police said there was information about an unconfirmed second death.

UNHCR Greece later tweeted: “We learned with deep sadness that the lives of a woman and a child were lost in a fire on [Lesbos] today.”

A blaze broke out in an olive grove outside the camp just before 5pm local time, and, minutes later, another one occurred inside the camp, police said in a statement.

Both fires were later extinguished and their causes were under investigation.

Greece will keep moving refugees from overcrowded camps on its islands to the mainland, government officials said on Monday.

At least 250 people would be transferred from Moria to the mainland by the end of the day, Lefteris Economou, the deputy citizen protection minister, said.

Around 12,000 refugees are housed in tents and shipping containers at Moria, according to the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. The space was designed to accommodate 3,000 people.

The Greek government intends to move at least 3,000 people from its islands to the mainland by the end of October, Mr Economou said.

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More than 9,000 refugees arrived in Greece in August, the highest number in the three years since the European Union and neighbouring Turkey implemented a deal to close down the Aegean refugee route.

More than 8,000 people have arrived in September, according to the UNHCR.

Nearly a million refugees, many fleeing war in Syria, crossed from Turkey to Greece’s eastern Aegean islands in 2015.

Human rights have consistently criticised the poor conditions in the refugee camps.

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