Greek govt vows to improve refugee situation on island after fire

Updated: 2016-09-21 09:17


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Monday's fire at Moria's camp was the culmination of a long string of protests by refugees over poor living conditions in overcrowded facilities and delays in the examination of asylum bids.

Under an agreement made in March, incoming refugees are not transferred to the mainland, but remain on the islands until their asylum request is assessed.

The Moria hot spot was established last year to accommodate about 1,000 people. Until Monday, it hosted more than 3,000 refugees and migrants.

According to the local fire brigade, it was the third fire which had broken out on Monday at Moria village during the tension. The first two took place on a field near the hot spot, burning 16 acres of dry grass and olive trees.

On Tuesday morning, dozens of immigrants and refugees were outside the hot spot of Moria, waiting for the space to be cleaned.

"I've been waiting here for three months and I want to leave, open the borders," said 35-year-old Zaharie from Sudan.

Biral, a 26-year-old from Eritrea, said he had been in Moria for eight months.

"I can't stand it anymore. We eat potatoes or spaghetti every day and it is not enough for everyone. We stand in the queue under the sun. Something has to be done immediately. The Afghans are fighting with the Africans. There are complaints all the time, and we need peace and security," Biral said.

One hundred unaccompanied minors staying at Moria until Monday have been transferred to the open refugee camp PIKPA, which is run by volunteers.

Boni, a 14-year-old boy from Pakistan who has been in Moria for nine months and was transferred to PIKPA with the other minors, said "Moria is a jail."

"We want to go out. We want to be interviewed for our asylum request," said 16-year-old Goni, also from Pakistan, who has been in Lesvos for eight months.

In a letter addressed to the Deputy Minister of National Defense, Dimitris Vitsas, the organization Co-existence and Communication in the Aegean asked for the permanent accommodation of minors in other facilities.

"The only solution is the immediate transfer of minors from Lesvos and their settlement to a proper environment on the mainland. We are begging you: Save these children," said the president of the organization, Stratis Pothas.

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