desolation, anger and destitution in Lesbos

“How do you describe the disaster? “, asks Faris al Jawad of Doctors Without Borders Greece, present on the island of Lesbos. She is running out of time as the situation on the island is critical after the series of fires that have ravaged the insanitary migrant camp of Moria. “There are thousands piled up on the side of the road, but I am talking about women, pregnant women, children, many children, the elderly who have fled the war”, he is indignant. On the Greek islands nearly half of asylum seekers are Afghans, and 20% Syrians.

→ THE FACTS. Moria fire: 400 minor migrants taken care of in ten European countries

“We are like abandoned children. We endured things that we didn’t know could happen ”, testifies to the Greek daily Kathimerini a young Gambian, who calls the European Union “To come and support us”. They were, according to the daily, thousands to protest Friday, September 11 afternoon on the road between the Moria camp and Mytilene, the main town of the island, some holding up signs ” We want freedom ”(We want freedom).

“Migrants cannot cross police roadblocks”

For three nights, all have been sleeping in total poverty along the road and in the neighboring fields. “On Wednesday evening, a new fire broke out, creating an immense panic, all those who had returned to the camp in search of some belongings or in the hope of settling there in spite of everything had to flee again, c ‘was very traumatic ”, recognizes Faris al Jawad.

→ READ. Greece: state of emergency declared on the island of Lesbos

Thursday afternoon, September 10, a third fire finished destroying the little that remained of the official facilities of the camp and its wild extension, in the neighboring olive groves where a total of 12,700 asylum seekers were piled up.

According to him, sick people do not arrive at the MSF clinic in Mytilene. “They cannot cross the police barriers”. To his knowledge, they could not, either, board the ferry docked on the island and supposed to temporarily shelter a thousand people. And the two navy boats announced by the government to strengthen accommodation capacity by a thousand places had not yet arrived on Friday September 11.

Large police reinforcements have landed on the island, declared in a state of emergency for four months. Vans block access to the port. Residents have also erected roadblocks to prevent work to install new tents.

The island wind up against a new camp

Some of the 85,000 Lesbiotes and the local authorities have started a standoff with the government, determined to maintain Lesbos more than 12,000 asylum seekers at all costs; with the exception of the 406 unaccompanied minors who all boarded planes for Thessaloniki in northern Greece on August 9 and 10. They will then be welcomed in a dozen voluntary European countries, which have decided to reactivate the relocation promises made last March.

The fires are “The opportunity or never to definitively close Moria. We do not want another camp and we will oppose all the work undertaken ”, declared Vaguélis Violatzis, president of the neighboring municipality of Panagiouda. This opposition to temporary camps as durable “Is final”, added the municipality of Mytilene, adding that “it would be preferable for the competent authorities to understand and cooperate”, Kathimerini reports.

It is in this very tense context that aid begins to flow. Food and water are distributed “In very difficult conditions due to congestion”, recognizes the Greek agency Ana.

→ INVESTIGATION. In Greece, refugees under very high pressure

Shipments of tents and equipment arrived by plane began to arrive on September 11 near the small camp of Kara Tepe, which hosts families and vulnerable people in Mytilene. And several European countries have sent material. In particular Switzerland, whose ton of blankets and personal hygiene products was expected for September 11 at the end of the day. And a truck is driving from Germany.