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Greece opens new camp to Moria migrants

September 13, 2020

Greece has opened a 3,000-capacity tent camp for the migrants made homeless by the Moria fire — but amid unrest over conditions only a few hundred have entered so far. Athens says they will all be housed within a week.

Children from Moria sleep in rough conditions
Image: Reuters/A. Konstantinidis

Greece said Sunday it hoped thousands of asylum seekers left homeless by fires at Europe's largest migrant camp on the island of Lesbos could be rehoused within a week.

The announcement came as a new so-called tent city at Kara Tepe opened to the first people.

At least 300 people were expected to move into the 3,000-capacity camp by the end of the day on Sunday.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told reporters Sunday that: "In five days the operation will be concluded. Everybody will be inside the new camp."

But a large number of migrants, who were residents of the destroyed Moria camp, have refused to enter the new facility, demanding asylum to other EU countries or better living conditions.

DW correspondent Florian Schmitz, who's on the island, said: "After many years of dire conditions in Moria, neither the refugees nor the people of Lesbos want a new camp."

Those who did begin to enter on Sunday had to undergo coronavirus tests.

Read more: Opinion: The EU failed displaced people at Moria camp

The new camp open Lesbos
The new tent camp has capacity for 3,000 peopleImage: Reuters/A. Konstantinidis

Germany under pressure to take in migrants

Many of the 11,000 asylum seekers who fled the camp earlier in the week have been sleeping rough on Lesbos since Wednesday.

Schmitz said reporters could no longer access the street where most of the migrants and refugees were gathered.

"About a thousand people still sleep around the area of the former Moria camp," said Schmitz.

Clashes occurred on Saturday after hundreds of migrants staged a mostly-peaceful demonstration.

The destruction of the camp has presented a challenge to Greek officials trying to care for the migrants and prompted offers of aid from across Europe, while also fueling criticism of EU migration policy.

Germany's offer to take in up to 150 children was met with widespread criticism earlier this week by rights groups, who say Germany can afford to house more of the homeless migrants.

Development Minister Gerd Müller became the latest high-profile politician to criticize Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's quota, on Sunday calling for Germany to take 2,000 of the migrants.

kd, ed/rc (AP, Reuters)