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Thousands of migrants protest against a new refugee camp in Lesbos after 12,000 people were left homeless after a fire


Thousands of migrants have been left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the overcrowded Moria camp and protested against the construction of a new refugee camp on the island.

The demonstrators who were about to leave the island clapped and sang songs and were exuberant but peaceful on the road that led to the island's capital.

Some held up signs asking for help from Germany, a preferred destination for many migrants and refugees coming to Greece from the nearby Turkish coast.

However, the Greek government has announced that it will not be "blackmailed" by the demonstrators and has no plans to relocate them from the island.

The director of the office of the Greek Minister of Migration, Konstantinos Kostakos, said around 1,000 migrants would be temporarily relocated to a ship docked in Sigri on the west side of the island.

He told CNN, “This is the first ship to be docked on the island. If necessary, we will consider bringing more. & # 39;

& # 39; The Greek government is not being blackmailed. What happened – this "burn and go" tactic – will not be tolerated. "

The refugees slept in parking lots and gas stations last night after Greece's largest refugee camp burned down. Locals have put roadblocks in place to prevent a new one from being built.

Hungry families slept on roadsides and in fields across the island after Moria camp was reduced to a mass of smoldering steel and melted tarpaulin after successive flames on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thousands of migrants have been left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the overcrowded Moria camp and protested against the construction of a new refugee camp on the island

The protesters held up signs asking for help from Germany, a preferred destination for many migrants and refugees coming to Greece from the nearby Turkish coast

The protesters held up signs asking for help from Germany, a preferred destination for many migrants and refugees coming to Greece from the nearby Turkish coast

Riot police take part in the peaceful but boisterous protest on the road that leads to the island's capital today, as thousands gather

Riot police take part in the peaceful but boisterous protest on the road that leads to the island's capital today, as thousands gather

The Greek government has announced that the protesters will not "blackmail" them and has no plans to move them from the island

The Greek government has announced that the protesters will not "blackmail" them and has no plans to move them from the island

Some who fled the fires have tested positive for Covid-19 in the camp following an outbreak of the disease, further complicating attempts to gather migrants and move them to alternative accommodation.

Yesterday trucks blocked access to the ruins of the camp, which housed 12,000 people in just 2,800 spaces, to prevent a cleanup that would make way for new tents.

"Now is the time to shut down Moria for good," said Vangelis Violatzis, a local community leader. “We don't want another camp and will oppose any construction work. We have faced this situation for five years. It is time for others to take on this burden. & # 39;

The Greek government says the fire was intentionally started by asylum seekers protesting against quarantine measures in the camp and is calling on Europe to share the burden of housing the migrants.

Angela Merkel's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said today that 10 EU countries had agreed to accept some of the 406 unaccompanied children in the camp, most of whom would go to France or Germany.

Protesters hold up signs saying "Moria is killing" and "We need peace and freedom" when they demand to be removed from the island

Protesters hold up signs saying "Moria is killing" and "We need peace and freedom" when they demand to be removed from the island

Thousands of migrants took to the streets fearing coronavirus infections among the refugee population in the now burned down camp

Thousands of migrants took to the streets fearing coronavirus infections among the refugee population in the now burned down camp

Riot police in armor carry sign in preparation as the refugees demand resettlement. Around 1,000 migrants are temporarily being relocated to a ship that has docked in Sigri on the west side of the island

Riot police in armor carry sign in preparation as the refugees demand resettlement. Around 1,000 migrants are temporarily being relocated to a ship that has docked in Sigri on the west side of the island

Peaceful but exuberant migrants, some with coronavirus face masks, crowd in the street in protest outside a BP garage with signs

Peaceful but exuberant migrants, some with coronavirus face masks, crowd in the street in protest outside a BP garage with signs

A Mirgant calls for help from Germany and holds a sign that reads "Germany, please help us" while demonstrators, including children, raise their arms in the air

A Mirgant calls for help from Germany and holds a sign that reads "Germany, please help us" while demonstrators, including children, raise their arms in the air

Displaced migrants are sleeping in a supermarket parking lot on the island of Lesvos this morning after the fire that destroyed Greece's largest refugee camp

Displaced migrants are sleeping in a supermarket parking lot on the island of Lesvos this morning after the fire that destroyed Greece's largest refugee camp

A woman holds her child while displaced asylum seekers wait to see if they can board a bus from Moria on Thursday

A woman holds her child while displaced asylum seekers wait to see if they can board a bus from Moria on Thursday

An aerial photo on Thursday shows the consequences of the fire that broke out on Tuesday evening and left around 12,000 people homeless

An aerial photo on Thursday shows the consequences of the fire that broke out on Tuesday evening and left around 12,000 people homeless

The fire on late Tuesday in Moria camp, Greece's main migrant facility, caused thousands to flee to the surrounding olive groves for security reasons.

"We lost everything, we were abandoned without food, water or medicine," said Fatma Al-Hani, a Syrian who barely had time to get her ID before the flames engulfed the camp.

Gaelle Koukanee, a pregnant 21-year-old Congolese refugee, said police fired tear gas to put out the fire during the operation.

“We have children, old people, who are disabled among us. Why this lack of humanity? & # 39; she asked, taking shelter from the blazing sun under an olive tree.

While no one was seriously injured, the fire on Tuesday destroyed the official part of the camp, which was home to 4,000 people, ministers said.

A second fire broke out late Wednesday, destroying most of the remaining camp, where an additional 8,000 lived in tents and makeshift huts around the perimeter.

Another fire briefly broke out in the camp on Thursday.

The minors at Moria camp were flown from the island of Lesbos and placed in "safe" facilities in northern Greece, Athens said, adding that they had all been tested for the coronavirus.

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said asylum seekers started the fire for quarantine after 35 people in the camp tested positive for coronavirus.

Some who fled the fires on Tuesday and Wednesday nights later tested positive for Covid-19, making attempts to round up migrants and move them to alternative accommodation difficult.

Refugees camped on the road near Mytilene when families were forced to sleep outside after the fires

Refugees camped on the road near Mytilene when families were forced to sleep outside after the fires

An asylum seeker rests on a blanket on the side of the road in Lesvos, which has long been one of the main gateways to Europe

An asylum seeker rests on a blanket on the side of the road in Lesvos, which has long been one of the main gateways to Europe

A boy sits on a cart with items pulled by other young migrants as they walk on a street near Mytilene on Friday

A boy sits on a cart with items pulled by other young migrants as they walk on a street near Mytilene on Friday

Refugees find refuge in a Lidl supermarket next to a street near Mytilene after 12,000 people were left homeless in the consecutive fires on Tuesday and Wednesday

Refugees find refuge in a Lidl supermarket next to a street near Mytilene after 12,000 people were left homeless in the consecutive fires on Tuesday and Wednesday

A woman pushes a child into a shopping cart as migrants seek refuge in a parking lot in Mytilene Thursday

A woman pushes a child into a shopping cart as migrants seek refuge in a parking lot in Mytilene Thursday

A crowd of people stands near a street sign that points to Moria in Greek and English, looking for new accommodation

A crowd of people stands near a street sign that points to Moria in Greek and English, looking for new accommodation

Blockade: The residents of Lesvos park trucks head to head to barricade a street and prevent the Moria migrant camp from being cleaned up and replaced

Blockade: The residents of Lesvos park trucks head to head to barricade a street and prevent the Moria migrant camp from being cleaned up and replaced

Asylum seekers rest with their belongings on their heads after setting up camp on a roadside near Moria today

Asylum seekers rest with their belongings on their heads after setting up camp on a roadside near Moria today

A migrant today pulls a girl on a cart on the island of Lesbos with refugees who are homeless and hungry from the fire

A migrant today pulls a girl on a cart on the island of Lesbos with refugees who are homeless and hungry from the fire

A woman carries her child while asylum seekers walk by the roadside. Many of them are wearing masks after a coronavirus outbreak in the camp that led to the fire, according to Greek officials

A woman carries her child while asylum seekers walk by the roadside. Many of them are wearing masks after a coronavirus outbreak in the camp that led to the fire, according to Greek officials

Two men push in a garbage can with their belongings and children, while a girl takes a drink from a water bottle

Two men push in a garbage can with their belongings and children, while a girl takes a drink from a water bottle

Displaced migrants were waiting in line for food in front of a Lidl supermarket in Mytilene yesterday

Displaced migrants were waiting in line for food in front of a Lidl supermarket in Mytilene yesterday

After the destruction of their migrant camp, refugees rest on blankets on the side of the road on Lesvos

After the destruction of their migrant camp, refugees rest on blankets on the side of the road on Lesvos

A man and a child wearing a mask pull their belongings along a street on Lesvos in the early hours of Friday morning

A man and a child wearing a mask pull their belongings along a street on Lesvos in the early hours of Friday morning

Asylum seekers find shelter in front of a petrol station on Lesbos. Discussions are ongoing in Europe about how the migrants can be resettled

Asylum seekers find shelter in front of a petrol station on Lesbos. Discussions are ongoing in Europe about how the migrants can be resettled

A group of women wearing face masks at the camp because of the coronavirus outbreak are carrying their belongings in bags today

A group of women wearing face masks at the camp because of the coronavirus outbreak are carrying their belongings in bags today

Riot police were taken to the port of Mytilene in Lesbos this morning after the fire on Tuesday

Riot police were taken to the port of Mytilene in Lesbos this morning after the fire on Tuesday

Earlier this year, a plan to build a new camp on Lesvos stalled after locals clashed with riot police to prevent its construction.

“We lacked toilets and showers and as women we were afraid to go at night. But now I'm even more worried about my future, ”said Koukanee, the Congolese refugee.

Greek officials have declared a four-month emergency on the island and have flown with additional riot police.

Germany and France agreed on an initiative for EU countries on Thursday to distribute around 400 minors from the camp, a source close to the talks told AFP.

"As a first step, we are offering Greece to accept underage refugees – further steps must follow," said Chancellor Angela Merkel in a panel discussion in Berlin.

The European Union must take on "more joint responsibility" for migration policy, said Merkel.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants that kind of feeling to be put into practice.

"Europe must move from words of solidarity to a policy of solidarity," he said at a summit of leaders of the Mediterranean in Corsica.

"We have to put the migration crisis at the center of our discussions and be much more specific," he said.

Children sit on a blanket while adult migrants examine their belongings in a street camp on Lesbos on Friday

Children sit on a blanket while adult migrants examine their belongings in a street camp on Lesbos on Friday

Asylum seekers carry their belongings on the side of the road near the remains of their place of residence

Asylum seekers carry their belongings on the side of the road near the remains of their place of residence

Asylum seekers carry their belongings, including what appears to be a children's toy, on a street in Lesvos

Asylum seekers carry their belongings, including what appears to be a children's toy, on a street in Lesvos

Refugees today seek shelter under roadside tents and blankets, and their future is uncertain

Refugees today seek shelter under roadside tents and blankets, and their future is uncertain

A displaced asylum seeker says goodbye while others wait to see if they can get on a bus from Moria

A displaced asylum seeker says goodbye while others wait to see if they can get on a bus from Moria

Migrants shower in a trench a few miles from the Moria fire that broke out Tuesday night

Migrants shower in a trench a few miles from the Moria fire that broke out Tuesday night

Refugees find shelter near the coast of Lesbos this morning. Thousands of people are homeless and hungry from the fire

Refugees find shelter near the coast of Lesbos this morning. Thousands of people are homeless and hungry from the fire

Two Greek naval ships would provide additional sleeping space, said the migration ministry.

The Netherlands offered to take in 100 of the migrants, half of them minors.

European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, who visited Lesbos on Thursday, said she had organized the transfer of 400 unaccompanied minors to the mainland for relocation to Europe.

"And in the next few hours there will be ships funded by the European Union to provide shelter for the most vulnerable, needy," he said.

Since becoming one of the main gateways to Europe for migrants and asylum seekers in 2015, Greece has built dozens of prisons across the country.

With other European nations taking in only a small number of refugees, thousands remain trapped in Greek camps in normally dire health conditions.

The conservative Greek government has also tightened its asylum restrictions and cut cash benefits and housing requirements to prevent further migration.

"This is Europe?" asked Fatma, clutching her two year old son.

"I've had enough, I just want my baby to grow up in peace," she said, and burst into tears.

A military helicopter transfers packages of tents to set up an improvised camp for homeless refugees

A military helicopter transfers packages of tents to set up an improvised camp for homeless refugees

People are putting up tents to set up a makeshift camp for homeless refugees at the Kara Tepe shooting range today

People are putting up tents to set up a makeshift camp for homeless refugees at the Kara Tepe shooting range today