Blaze forces 4,000 to flee refugee camp in Greece

Sep 20, 2016, 4:38 AM EDT
Blaze at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos
(Source: Paladin Justice/flickr)

A massive blaze gutted hundreds of tents and prefabricated homes at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, forcing more than 4,000 migrants to evacuate the facility on Monday. An aid worker with the Swiss charity S.A.O. said that the fire, which apparently started after rumors of mass deportations, destroyed almost 30 percent of the camp but there were no casualties.

The camp in Lesbos has a capacity of about 3,600 refugees but it shelters nearly 5,600 people, which often results in flare ups even on petty issues, reports the BBC. Situation remains tense in Lesbos camp as refugees face a lengthy process to obtain approval for their asylum application. Until the applications are fully processed, the asylum seekers are held in overcrowded camps and unsanitary living conditions.

The incident came as ultra-nationalists held a rally on Lesbos on Monday evening, raising slogans of “throw them into the sea.” More than 60,000 refugees and migrants in Greece, who seek travel to Germany and other E.U. countries, are stranded after eastern European and Balkan states sealed off their borders earlier this year, writes Al Jazeera.