The government on Friday dispatched a team of some 20 officials from the Migration and other ministries to the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos to break a deadlock concerning the fate of thousands of refugees and migrants left stranded after the destruction of the Moria camp.
The team was sent to the island by military helicopter so as to reach the site where the majority of the migrants have been gathered after their tents and container homes went up in smoke during a string of fires at the overcrowded facility on Wednesday and Thursday.
Sources at the Migration Ministry told Kathimerini that finding a solution to the problem of where to house the migrants and refugees for the time being but also in the long-term is proving harder than anticipated due to local reactions to existing proposals.
These proposals include housing a few thousand migrants and refugees on a passenger ferry and two navy ships at the island’s port of Mytilini and constructing a new camp at the site of the old one to provide long-term accommodation.
Local reaction to these plans has been intense, with residents setting up roadblocks to prevent demolition and construction crews from reaching the Moria site and authorities demanding the immediate transfer of all the refugees and migrants – estimated at around 13,000 – to the mainland.
The mass transfer of the migrants and refugees to the mainland is seen as particularly risky by the government, as Moria had been on lockdown at the time of the fires due to a coronavirus outbreak. Tracing and testing identified 50 camp residents as being infected with the virus, but the facility used to isolate them from the general population was also destroyed in the fire, scattering the 35 patients staying there at the time. Only eight have since been located, according to reports.
In the meantime, the government plans to create a temporary camp near an existing facility run by the municipal authority in Kara Tepe, which is used to house vulnerable migrants and families.
The site has also been chosen because the majority of Moria’s displaced residents have gravitated to the Kara Tepe camp in search of food, water and shelter.