Sep 16, 2020 10:49 UTC
  • 13 detained after fire near second Greek refugee camp

Thirteen people have been detained on the Greek island of Samos after a fire threatened the local migrant camp, police said Wednesday, days after another blaze destroyed Europe's largest migrant camp on Lesbos.

"We are examining the possible participation of these suspects in the incident," a Samos police source said.

The fire broke out in a forested area near the Samos camp late on Tuesday, but firefighters were able to place it under control.

The Lesbos fire at Moria camp on September 8 left over 12,000 asylum seekers homeless. Police have arrested six migrants in connection with the incident.

Greek officials have said several times that the fire was started by migrants who faced isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus disease.

Need 'strong' EU response

European Council chief Charles Michel, flying to Lesbos after talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens, urged the 27-nation bloc to "take more responsibilities."

"We want to support the efforts made by the Greek authorities," Michel said.

EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson said between "8-9,000 will be able to find immediate temporary shelter" there.

Five years after the arrival in Europe of over a million asylum seekers, many fleeing wars in Iraq and Syria, the question over how the bloc should share out its refugee responsibilities remains sensitive.

1,000 migrants in new camp

Many migrants have refused to enter the new camp of white tents near the eastern port village of Panagiouda, fearing they will be unable to leave once inside.

Others, though, have reluctantly made their way to the site in the searing heat.

On Tuesday, the Greek migration ministry said roughly 1,000 of the 12,000 Moria migrants had been housed at the site.

Among them, 21 have tested positive for coronavirus.

"There's nothing in the camp, no shower, no mattresses," Malik, an Algerian migrant, told AFP by phone from inside the camp where he now lives with his wife and five children.

"There is only one meal per day, and they give us a carton with six bottles of water," said the French language teacher.