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Daily Update (15/09/20)

A week since the fire - what now?

1. New camp updates

  • 1000 people were settled in the new camp by Monday evening with at least 25 tested positive for Covid19 & isolated. 5000 places are said to be available.

  • Civil protection minister Chrysochoidis is planning the creation of a special service to police the new migrant centre. The unit is to be staffed with newly hired border guards and local police officers.

  • Many people are pointing out that the camp appears to be very unsafe: it is exposed to large waves as it is very close to the sea; the ground is unstable and the tents are far too close together.

  • Covid-19 or fires could easily spread in these conditions

2. Press access denied

  • This morning, journalists were yet again denied access to the Kara Tepe road by police road blocks. This lack of press freedom and access is concerning.

  • This morning, MSF and a few other NGOs were allowed through the police blockade but others were also denied access.

3. Fire Investigation

  • Police have arrested five camp residents in connection with the fires and are looking for one more person

4. Basic resources update

  • Today’s food line was more calm, although again the line was incredibly long.

  • People are not receiving enough water and many are dehydrated.

  • Thousands of people are still sleeping on the street. This includes many young children, vulnerable elderly people and people who urgently need medical attention/treatment.

5. Ongoing right-wing activism

  • The Greek City Times is reporting an interview with German right wing activist Rebecca Somer just returned from Lesvos, claiming that fires were set by refugees assisted by German NGOs, presence of armed jihadists amongst the camp residents, refugees obstructing firefighters & being extremely aggressive towards the police. This has been widely circulated on social media

6. Other island updates

  • First Covid-19 cases identified in Samos camp. 2 people currently isolated in Samos prison.

  • Further testing now ongoing. The 2 positive cases had been actively attending different NGO centres. About 20 volunteer staff are being tested now.

  • Centres have closed and the camp quarantine is in place until 29th September

  • STOP PRESS: fire outside Samos camp tonight!

Official Greek response 15/09/20:

  1. Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said that no refugees or migrants will be allowed to leave the island unless they first check in at the new Kara Tepe camp, where they will undergo a coronavirus test and also have their status confirmed. He says this is ‘non-negotiable’.

  2. Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi alluded to possible use of force if people refused to go voluntarily. Nine riot police units and water cannon have been sent to the island.

  3. The civil protection minister, Michalis Chrysochoidis,said plans would be accelerated to decongest the island. ““They will all leave...Of the roughly 12,000 refugees here currently, I foresee 6,000 being transferred to the mainland by Christmas and the rest by Easter. The people of this island have gone through a lot. They’ve been very patient.”

European response 15/09/20:

  1. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) confirms it will be resuming interviews for international protection on Lesvos in the coming days and that there was no loss of documents relating to applications in the fires.

  2. EASO has also re-deployed personnel to assist the Greek authorities with the establishment of an emergency reception facility in Kara Tepe & “stands ready to engage in the establishment of a new reception facility built to EU standards”. “The Agency is fully engaged with the Greek authorities, as well as the European Commission, in addressing not only the immediate needs in Lesvos, but also in terms of finding long term solutions in line with European legal obligations and best practices.”

  3. Angela Merkel, noted that Greece “has shouldered a large share of the responsibility and has won the right to our support.” Germany would offer “substantial” support to the European response - they have offered to take in 1,553 people from 408 families

  4. Merkel insisted on Monday any transfer of migrants to Germany would need to go hand-in-hand with a broader European initiative

  5. Apart from Luxembourg, no other country has so far shown willingness to partake in a pan-European solution to the crisis in Moria.

  6. Marisa Matias, Portuguese MEP and a candidate for the presidency of Portugal, announced she is visiting the island of Lesvos next weekend, stating that "we can't close our eyes to the tragedy that is happening in Greece".

  7. EU Council President Charles Michel expected to visit Lesvos this evening

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