Greece

Moria camp on Lesvos burned to the ground

Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesvos has burned to the ground. The Norwegian Refugee Council’s global provider of expertise, NORCAP, has sent shelter and camp management experts to the scene.

The fire in Greece’s largest migrant camp started during the night on 8 September, while most of the inhabitants were asleep. The camp is now a scene of total devastation. Thousands of people are fleeing, and the Greek government has declared a state of emergency on the island.

“The camp in Moria is completely burned down and firefighters are still working to put out fires in parts of the camp,” says NORCAP’s Patric Mansour, who until recently was working with site management in Greece.

“All services and facilities that we have built up in the camp are gone,” he continues. “Thousands have fled the camp and are currently on the streets, with nowhere to go.”

The Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) global provider of expertise, NORCAP, has sent shelter and camp management experts to Lesvos to help meet the needs. 

“Moria has been a ticking bomb for a long time”

NRC has been warning about conditions in the overcrowded camp for years. The fire is a consequence of Europe not taking responsibility by supporting Greece in relocating people from the island of Lesvos.

“The recent events are catastrophic and tragic,” says Benedicte Giæver, NORCAP Executive Director. “Moria has been a ticking bomb for a long time, with desperate people in an overcrowded camp with limited services and facilities.”

“Greece has tried to alleviate the situation by moving people to the mainland. However, continuous new arrivals on the island, coupled with European countries not willing to share the responsibility and relocate people, has resulted in the situation we have today.”

The extent of the destruction is not yet clear, but what we do know is that there is now nowhere for the camp’s residents to shelter tonight.

Article updated on 14 September 2020