A total of 400 unaccompanied minors left homeless after a devastating fire at the biggest migrant camp in Greece will receive shelter in ten European Union states, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Friday.
Germany and France will take in the bulk of the minors, each offering refuge to between 100 and 150, Seehofer said. The Netherlands has reportedly offered to take in 100 migrants from the camp, half of which will be minors.
Thousands of migrants remained stranded for a third day on the streets of Lesbos island near Greece’s largest migrant camp on Friday, after fires devastated the facility.
The Moria camp has always been notorious for poor living conditions. It hosted more than 12,000 migrants, four times its stated capacity, before a fire on Wednesday turned the sprawling site into ash.
Commenting on the issue, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that accepting minors would be a preliminary step. Other steps must follow, she said in Berlin, adding that the EU must “assume more shared responsibility” for migration policy.
Her statement was echoed by EU Commission’s Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, who spoke at a news conference along with Seehofer on Friday. The disaster added urgency for the bloc to reform migration policy, Schinas said.
The fire at Moria camp sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves. The minors from the camp were flown off Lesbos island and rehoused in “safe” facilities in northern Greece. The government in Athens said that they all had been tested for Covid-19.
Local authorities in Greece are resisting plans to temporarily set up campsites for the homeless. “Now is the time to shut down Moria for good,” Vangelis Violatzis, a local municipal leader, told AFP. “We’ve faced this situation for five years, it’s time for others to bear this burden.”
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