Screenshot of video footage showing fire at migrant camp on Samos on April 26, 2020 | Source: Twitter/MSF_Sea
Screenshot of video footage showing fire at migrant camp on Samos on April 26, 2020 | Source: Twitter/MSF_Sea

Scores of asylum seekers were left homeless when two fires tore through a migrant camp on the Greek island of Samos, a migration ministry official said Monday.

Two fires on Sunday evening and Monday morning destroyed many huts, tents and container homes in the camp before the flames were brought under control. "Around 200 people have been left homeless," Migration Ministry Secretary Manos Logothetis told AFP

The Greek media outlet Ekathimerini reports that the fire broke out just outside the main camp in an area with shacks housing migrants as well as medical and support facilities.

The blaze on Sunday evening was started "amid internal disputes (between residents)", Logothetis stated. The second fire was started Monday in a new round of clashes between "Arabic-speakers and Africans", a local police source said, according to AFP reports.

While local media report that the second fire was fueled by migrants in a bid to be taken out of the camps, these reports have not been confirmed, according to Ekathimerini.

In a report by state broadcaster ERT, police is seen detaining migrants, as well as an apparently unconscious migrant being carried by others to the street. There were, however, no reports of injuries.

Island camps severely overcrowded

The Vathy camp on Samos is massively overcrowded, with nearly 7,000 people in a facility built to handle fewer than 650. The island's mayor, Giorgos Stanzos, has for months been pressing the authorities in Athens to evacuate the camp, reports dpa.

The Greek government had planned to relocate to the mainland over 2,300 asylum seekers from overcrowded camps on the Aegean islands  -- including many elderly and ailing persons. So far the operation has been delayed due to fears of a spread of the coronavirus.

Migrants are increasingly in despair over the conditions and the slow processing of their asylum applications and are eager to move out. Violence, either among migrants or directed at authorities, has flared up, the Associated Press reports.

Earlier this month another fire in the migrant camp on Chios destroyed the facilities of the European asylum service, a camp canteen, warehouse tents and many housing containers in a riot started after a 47-year-old Iraqi woman died there.

Coronavirus cases on mainland

No coronavirus case has been officially reported in camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos. On the Greek mainland, two camps and one hostel housing migrants have been put under quarantine after residents tested positive for the virus

 

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