Hundreds of migrants homeless as another Greek camp damaged by fire

Hundreds of people are living on the streets without shelter after a fire broke out in an overcrowded migrant camp in Greece.

The fire started on 14 October at a camp on the island of Samos, and the cause it not yet known. Police said that earlier that day a fight had broken out between Afghan and Syrian irregular migrants who were then taken to the hospital. An explosion was reportedly heard before the fire broke out, according to local mayor Georgios Stantzos.

Tents and housing containers were destroyed, resulting in 600 people being given temporary shelter by aid groups operating in the area.

Greece is struggling with a growth of irregular migrant arrivals since the start of the summer. The spike has caused already crowded camps to worsen. Samos camp was initially built for about 650 people, but now holds more than 5,700. At least 700 refugees and migrants were relocated from the Greek islands to the mainland on 7 October as part of an ongoing effort to decongest overcrowded camps.

Two weeks prior to this fire, another one on nearby Lesbos caused the death of at least one Afghan woman. It sparked protests among irregular migrants living there who called for better living conditions. Athens said it would respond to the crisis by implementing a stricter migration policy and deport at least 10,000 migrants by the end of next year.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told the Greek parliament that the country needs to do more to process its backlog of asylum claims.

Over 12,000 migrants reached Greece in September this year, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)—the highest level since the 2016 deal between the EU and in order to limit arrivals in Europe.

“The pressure currently being placed on populations on the Turkey-Syria border may force several thousand Syrians, or others living in the region, to want to cross the border into Turkey. And then what happens?” Avramopoulos said. “That would be catastrophic for Greece, and for Europe.”

TMP – 25/10/2019

Photo credit: Juergen Nowak / Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: Samos town/Vathy, Samos Island/Greece, 10/3/2019. Completely overcrowded refugee settlement in the hills above Samos town on the Greek island of Samos.

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