New Fire Erupts on Moria, Devastating Remains of Refugee Camp

The new fires at Moria refugee camp, set the evening after the initial fire. Credit:@th_voulgarakis/Twitter

More fires broke out late on Wednesday in what was left of the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos, as the government blames camp residents for starting the fires angered by the lockdown measures and isolation orders imposed after 35 people tested positive for COVID-19.

Footage shown displayed children running from the blaze, silhouetted against the flames.


There was one fire in the camp’s “Section 9” and another on the right side of an olive grove, according to a representative from Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, who posted a video to Twitter showing himself at the MSF clinic with the flames from the two fires in the background.

Some residents had apparently returned to the camp, trying to salvage what they could of what remained after the initial fire on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.


It appeared from reports that very little is now left of the camp. The initial fire had burned scores of tents, personal belongings and the containers in which migrants and refugees had made their homes while awaiting to be processed.


The MSF official called for the entire camp to be evacuated, as he said, “Right now,” adding “this cannot go on any longer!” He stated that the situation was not safe for anyone at present and that all the residents needed to be moved from there to safe accommodation “on the mainland or in other EU states.”

Officials said the original fire was started by camp residents angered by the lockdown measures and isolation orders imposed after 35 people tested positive for COVID-19. The cases were found during broad testing and contact tracing after the illness of a Somali man who had been granted asylum and had left the island in July but later returned.

The exact cause of the first blaze was being investigated, but “what is certain is that the fire was started, because of the quarantine, by asylum-seekers in the facility,” said Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis, who flew to Lesvos with Greece’s interior minister and the head of the public health organization.

“Instances of unlawful behavior such as the ones we experienced yesterday will not be left unpunished,” Mitarakis said. “Such behavior is not acceptable, and also respect for law and order is a necessary precondition for the asylum process.”