UN agencies have offered support to Greek authorities after a major fire ripped through an overcrowded refugee camp overnight, destroying dwellings and forcing thousands to flee, many reportedly suffering from smoke inhalation.
Within a short span of time, three separate fires broke out at the Moria Reception and Identification Center (RIC) on the Greek island of Lesbos.
While initial reports suggested there were no fatalities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that over 12,600 migrants and refugees have been displaced and 80 percent of the facility – designed to house only around 3,000 – was destroyed.
“This devastating tragedy compounds the already existing challenges and difficult conditions at Moria due to overcrowding and COVID-19”, said IOM chief António Vitorino.
IOM, UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the European Union’s Asylum Support Office, are working closely with the Greek Government to organize the relocation of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable asylum seekers to EU Member States with the dual purpose of supporting vulnerable groups, and enhancing solidarity among States, said IOM.
Meanwhile, UNHCR had immediately deployed staff on the ground and offered assistance to Greece, amidst particular concern for asylum seekers, especially children, pregnant women, elderly people and other vulnerable populations.
The camp, which lies north-east of the island’s capital of Mytilene, has long been overwhelmed by huge numbers of refugees that have been taken in.
Original source: UN News