Daily Update (11/09/20)
In the aftermath of the Moria fire, there are multiple pieces of information being disseminated across social media and news channels regarding the current situation in Lesvos and other Aegean islands.
Many of us at Europe Must Act are receiving very concerning updates which we wish to keep track of and keep others informed about.
We will aim to give a brief summary of these points at the end of each day. Given the fast-changing and unstable nature of this situation, we may not be 100% up to date at all times. If you disagree with something here, or have new information, please use this Google form to report your information. Where possible, we will try to verify all news sources.
Key points from today (11/09/20):
1. Severe food shortages
The army was assigned charge of food distributions. However, they have expressed a lack of willingness to distribute the meals as they fear riots and unrest. UNHCR and NGOs on the ground are now trying to form a plan for food distribution. Some people have now gone hungry for two days.
An asylum-seeker in Kara Tepe camp: ‘I heard from some people that the army didn’t give them any food, any water today. There are many people and children that are hungry and thirsty. I know a lot of women that don’t have a husband and they have 3, or 4 children, and no food.’
An NGO worker on the ground said supermarkets / minimarkets will sell them food, but not refugees.
A group of people in Kara Tepe camp had self-organised a cooking team and were distributing to people from Moria on the road outside. However, they have now been forbidden from doing this.
Some food distributions that took place today turned into chaos as there was no system in place. People were treated disrespectfully and were provided with inadequate or mouldy food. One eyewitness stated ‘Sometimes they give [food] like this (see photo below). It’s really horrific.’
2. Far-right threat
Far-right groups are continuing to threaten the safety of refugees who are now living on the street. Without accommodation, these people are more vulnerable than ever.
There are an estimated 5,000 children from Moria who are now homeless. Their safety must remain a priority.
Vigilante groups are blocking roads to prevent NGOs accessing those in need of aid, threatening NGO workers and deliberately impeding the aid operation. “A car tried to run down an NGO volunteer today - I saw it. It feels very insecure at present” - NGO worker who wishes to remain anonymous for safety reasons.
3. National Greek news outlets spreading resentment towards refugees and NGOs.
There have been worrying anti-NGO and anti-refugee sentiments spreading across Greek news outlets and social media pages.
For example, this story suggests the fire was a well-planned set up between foreign NGOs and refugees in Moria.
4. Police roadblocks are still in place. Interventions have escalated.
NGOs are struggling to receive accurate information about where and when they can do distributions of clothes and other NFIs. The road is still blocked at Moria village. However, NGO distributions have been happening all day in locations further away from Moria.
Peaceful protests have been happening throughout the day. There are reports of riot police attending with tear gas and water cannons.
A brief summary of the response 9/09 and 10/09:
1. Official Greek response
PM Mitsotakis declared a state of emergency for a duration of four months. This means that all usual democratic decision-making processes are halted, giving authorities and the military increased power with less room for scrutiny.
This not only affects refugees in Lesvos but also local populations i.e. travel to and from the island may be impacted.
PM Mitsotakis has also announced there will be no transfers to the mainland or elsewhere for the time being - except unaccompanied minors (UAMs).
A number of ferries are being sent to Lesvos to be used as temporary shelters.
2. European response
The EU has agreed to relocate the 400 UAMs who were living in Safe Zone inside the Moria camp to other safer countries. So far Germany and France have offered to take these children.
Some nations have pledged to relocate small numbers of asylum-seekers from Lesvos. For example, the Netherlands pledged to take 100 people.
The EU is funding a ferry to provide temporary shelter.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated the main priority was "the safety of those left without shelter".
3. Local response
There have been worrying reports since the fire started on Tuesday 8th September of right-wing groups attacking refugees in the streets. Yesterday, some arrived in vans to threaten people. Police dispersed them at the scene, but they remain a threat to the safety of all the people currently living on the streets.