Greek reaction to fire in Moria: “A Planned Political Crime”

Greek reaction to fire in Moria: "A Planned Political Crime"

After the fire in the Moria camp, the Greek opposition sharply criticized the government. She demands the resignation of the migration minister.

The fire in the Moria refugee camp has led to severe criticism of the government from the opposition in Greece. The left-wing Syriza, which was itself a ruling party until July 2019 and is now the largest Greek opposition party, has accused the current conservative government, Nea Dimokratia, of being politically responsible for the fire in Moria.

On the Syriza-related radio station Sto Kokkino, the left-wing MP Giannis Bornous from Lesbos spoke of a “planned political crime” on the part of the Mitsotakis government, which had allowed the number of refugees in the camp of almost 6,000 people shortly before the elections last year grew to over 21,000 in February 2020. He also complained that the government started moving people from Moria to the mainland very late. Giannis Bornous called for the resignation of the conservative migration minister Notis Mitarakis.

“If the Moria reception center had 5,000 to 6,000 residents, both the corona cases identified and the quarantine would have had to be managed. Instead, the government officially decided a few days ago to turn Camp Moria into a large closed camp,” said the left-wing politician.

When the first positive corona case in Camp Moria became known last week, Mitsotaki’s conservative government saw its plan to transform all open camps on the five affected Aegean islands of Lesbos, Chios, Leros, Samos and Kos into closed camps. After all, according to the reasoning, the first known corona case was a recognized refugee who had left Moria and then received a residence permit from the asylum authorities in Athens.

Nevertheless, the 40-year-old man returned to Moria at the end of August after he could not find work or an apartment in Athens. Back in Moria, he lived in a tent outside the official camp, where he also showed the first symptoms of corona. This would not have happened, according to the Greek Migration Minister Mitarakis, if Moria had long been a closed camp. It was precisely this instrumentalization of the first corona case in Moria to promote an even stricter refugee and asylum policy, which was also criticized by non-governmental organizations that are active in refugee aid, for example Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees.

While the other Greek opposition parties are also criticizing the conservative Greek government, which has quarantined the refugees in an overcrowded camp, the criticism of the right-wing Greek Solution, which has been in the Greek parliament since the last elections, and for its rhetoric against migrants and refugees is known in a completely different direction.

The arson in Moria is an act of war, according to the right-wing extremist party, which “appeals one last time to deport illegal migrants immediately or to transport them to uninhabited islands”. With this she shows once more that in her agitation against migrants she has replaced the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which is no longer in parliament.

As the Greek Deputy Migration Minister Giorgos Koumountsakos announced on Wednesday afternoon, the homeless migrants will initially be housed in tents. Koumountsakos characterized the situation on Lesbos after the fire as “a humanitarian crisis”. Without mentioning the exact circumstances of the fire, as these are still officially investigated, he spoke of dramatic events that would have led to a major fire. “The camp is destroyed. The result: a few thousand people are homeless. The combination of migration and pandemic leads to a very challenging situation,” said the Deputy Migration Minister. Priority would now be given to those who need special protection: “All unaccompanied minors were taken to safe places or hotels. Other vulnerable migrants are also taken to safe places.”

Government members, including the Greek migration minister Notis Mitarakis, traveled to Lesbos on Wednesday to get an idea of the fire disaster for themselves. However, it is not likely that the dream of many migrants will come true and that the people from Moria will be brought to the mainland and into good accommodation there. The government prefers a solution on the island of Lesbos, arguing that the spread of the coronavirus must be avoided. Therefore, the refugees should not leave the island either.

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