Mi­grants to stay on Greek is­lands de­spite fire

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

Mi­grants and riot po­lice stand out­side the Mo­ria refugee camp as a fire burns part of the fa­cil­ity on the north-east­ern Greek is­land of Les­bos, late Mon­day. ATHENS (AP): AU­THOR­I­TIES ON the is­land of Les­bos called for the im­me­di­ate evac­u­a­tion Tues­day of thou­sands of refugees to the Greek main­land af­ter a fire gut­ted a de­ten­tion camp fol­low­ing protests, but Euro­pean Union (EU) of­fi­cials ap­peared cool to the idea.

More than 4,000 peo­ple were housed at the camp in Mo­ria on Les­bos, where the fire broke out late Mon­day, de­stroy­ing tents and trail­ers. No in­juries were re­ported at the camp, about 5 miles north of the is­land’s main town.

Nine mi­grants were ar­rested on pub­lic-dis­tur­bance charges af­ter the chaotic scenes.

Fam­i­lies with young chil­dren hastily packed up their be­long­ings and fled into the nearby fields as the fire raged af­ter night­fall. Many were later given shel­ter at vol­un­teer-run camps.

“We have been say­ing for a very long time that over­crowd­ing on the is­lands must be eased,” re­gional gov­er­nor Chris­tiana Kalo­girou told pri­vate Skai tele­vi­sion.

“On the is­lands of the north­east Aegean, of­fi­cial fa­cil­i­ties have a ca­pac­ity of 5,450 places, but more than 10,500 peo­ple are there. There is an im­me­di­ate need to take peo­ple off the is­lands be­cause things will get even more dif­fi­cult,” she said.

More than 60,000 mi­grants and refugees are stranded in tran­sit in Greece, and those who ar­rived af­ter March 20 have been re­stricted to five Aegean is­lands un­der an EUbro­kered deal to de­port them back to Turkey. But the agree­ment has been fraught with de­lays.

In Brussels, a spokes­woman for the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Natasha Ber­taud, said the Greek gov­ern­ment had de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as be­ing un­der con­trol. Transfers to the main­land, she said, would re­main lim­ited.

“To avoid sec­ondary move­ment to the rest of Europe, that means keep­ing asy­lum seek­ers on the is­lands for the most part,” Ber­taud said. Cuba’s for­mer leader, Fidel Cas­tro (right), shakes hands with Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani in Ha­vana, Cuba on Mon­day, Septem­ber 19. Rouhani was on a one-day of­fi­cial visit to Cuba.

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