Less than a week after the fire in the Moria camp, the investigation by the Greek authorities to find out the origin of the disaster seems to be progressing. On Tuesday September 15, the Greek Minister of Civil Protection Michalis Chrysohoidis announced the arrest of five migrants suspected of having set fire to the reception facilities on the Greek island of Lesbos. A sixth suspect has been identified but remains at large.
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The minister, quoted by the Greek agency ANA, believes that “These arrests discredit the scenario” according to which “Extremists” set fire to the migrant camp on the night of September 8 to 9. The recent increase in incidents between asylum seekers and islanders, including far-right sympathizers, is fueling suspicions about the possible involvement in the fire of residents opposed to the retention of migrants in Lesbos. Angry islanders were called to protest Tuesday afternoon to demand “The removal of migrants from the island”.
A form of refugee blackmail in the Greek government?
“Five young foreigners have been arrested while another, who has been identified, is still at large” and wanted, said Michalis Chrysohoidis in Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos. The five migrants were arrested during a police operation Monday, September 14 on the roads of this island, where thousands of asylum seekers have been sleeping since the camp fire. While the nationalities of the suspects have not been disclosed, the sixth suspect is said to have left the island.
The Greek government had already twice accused migrants of being the “Arsonists”. The first time, hours after the incident, Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said that “Many outbreaks were declared in the camp during the night” when “Asylum seekers protested against the quarantine” imposed after the detection of 35 cases of coronavirus. The second time, government spokesman Stelios Petsas claimed on Monday that “The camp had been burnt down by refugees and migrants who wanted to blackmail the government so that they could be transferred quickly”.
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After the fire, which left 12,000 asylum seekers homeless, the Greek authorities hastily erected a temporary camp not far from the ruins of Moria. But barely 800 migrants have so far agreed to settle there, most refusing for fear of not being able to leave the island once inside.