Despite protests from both refugees and locals, the country plans to build a new center to house the 12,000 migrants displaced by the fires at Moria Camp.
The Moria Camp in Lesbos, Greece, which previously housed 12,000 refugees, was burned down last week by alleged migrant agitators. In place of the camp, officials in Greece have confirmed that the country plans to build a permanent reception center for migrants and refugees on the island. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated that the new center was an opportunity for the country to revise the way it has handled the influx of migrants. However, refugees currently seeking shelter on Lesbos have said that they wish to be rehomed in other nations in the European Union, BBC News reports.
Due to a lack of shelter, migrants have been temporarily housed in naval ships. Groups of refugees have also taken to the streets in order to protest the building of a new migrant camp. Further to this, locals in the region are similarly opposed to a new camp. They believe that constructing another center would be far too much of a burden on the small island. Despite these complaints, it appears that Prime Minister Mitsotakis is set to go ahead with the plans for a new refugee center. "What happened in Moria, which is a tragedy, must be seen as an opportunity," he announced. "First of all, as an opportunity to reactivate Europe in the direction of solidarity to Greece, and to adopt a common immigration and asylum policy at a European Commission level."
He also highlighted that the Moria Camp was rife with infrastructural issues. He said, "The second opportunity out of this tragedy is to create on Lesbos a new permanent reception and identification center that will not carry the negative aspects and problems of Moria, which is identified, and rightly so, with the mismanagement of the refugee issue." The camp was initially only supposed to house 3,000 migrants, but an exponential increase in the number of refugees entering Greece meant that an estimated 12,000 individuals called the camp home. People hailing from 70 different countries had sought shelter at Moria Camp. Most of the refugees were from Afghanistan.
In addition to the camp's collapsing infrastructure due to overpopulation, the European Commission has been divided over the refugee crisis for several years now. Greece and Italy, two of the countries most burdened by the influx of refugees, have on numerous occasions criticized wealthier European nations for not doing more. For instance, Central and Eastern European members of the Commission are, at the moment, explicitly resistant to the idea of taking in a larger quota of migrants. Nonetheless, 10 European countries came forward to take 400 unaccompanied minors who were housed in the Camp in the wake of the fire.
Most of these unaccompanied minors can expect to go to countries such as Germany and France. Some of the other countries expected to take in children include Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, and Portugal. It cannot be ignored, however, that the 400 minors form a small portion of the total refugee population. Rehoming these communities will take more solidarity at a time when our global social fabric seems to be disintegrating. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the fire at Moria Camp was "a sharp reminder to all of us for what we need to change in Europe."