A police operation was underway, Thursday morning September 17, on the Greek island of Lesbos, in order to transfer thousands of migrants sleeping rough since the fire at the Moria camp on September 9 to a new camp in emergency.
Around 7 a.m. on the spot (6 a.m. in France), the police went from tent to tent, waking the exiles to take them to the camp hastily erected after the fire a week ago. Quietly, with only the crying of children, and as a police truck was parked across the road, several refugees folded their blankets, brought bags containing their belongings rescued from the flames last week, or stood to dismantle the tents of odds and ends installed on the asphalt. Women and children also joined the police barrier, bundles on their backs.
Since the fire in Moria, where nearly 13,000 refugees lived in dire conditions, thousands of people had settled in makeshift shelters on a road corner and closed supermarket car parks.
MSF denied access to its clinic
Médecins sans frontières (MSF), which opened an emergency clinic in this area, was denied access overnight, while rumors of evacuation were running, they told Agence France- Press (AFP). At 7:30 am, the members of the NGO still could not reach their clinic. “A police operation is underway to take the refugees to the new camp. This should not prevent medical aid ”, tweeted MSF.
The Greek authorities and the United Nations (UN) have been building a new camp since Saturday from which, they say, asylum application procedures can resume. But many refugees refused to settle there, for fear of seeing themselves trapped again for months while awaiting a possible transfer to the Greek mainland or another European country.
On Wednesday, according to several humanitarian workers present on the spot, a movement began towards the new camp, while the refugees are increasingly exhausted by a week outside, under a blazing sun. Some 1,200 exiles had joined the emergency camp on Tuesday, erected not far from the ruins of Moria, according to the migration ministry.
The objective of this new camp, says “Temporary”, according to the authorities’ promise, is that the refugees “Can gradually and calmly leave the island for Athens” or “To be resettled elsewhere”, said Wednesday the representative in Greece of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Philippe Leclerc.