Moria fire: Europe must pull together and offer immediate help

10/09/2020

Maroš Šefčovič

Migrants flee the Moria refugee camp with their belongings after fires break out at the site, Greece, 09 September 2020. Photo: Socrates Baltagiannis/dpa

We must not abandon people in need, the PES said today as it expressed its shock and sadness at the devasting fire at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The blaze, which broke out early on Wednesday morning, has left 12,000 people homeless. Residents of the camp are now in desperate need of emergency shelter.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“We are witnessing a human tragedy become a humanitarian disaster on Lesbos. It is devastating. As Europeans, it is our duty now to pull together and to offer immediate help. We must not abandon these refugees, we must act in solidarity now and we must work to close these overcrowded and dangerous camps. This situation cannot continue. We urgently need a long term, sustainable and humanitarian policy based on solidarity and shared responsibility.

“We call for all EU Member States to offer support, and to work to evacuate and relocate the people from the Moria camp. We strongly welcome the action already taken by progressive Commissioner Ylva Johansson, who has ensured the European Commission will finance the immediate transfer and accommodation on the mainland of 400 unaccompanied children and teenagers. The progressive pollical family stands ready to do all it can to help the refugees.”

PES Secretary General Achim Post said:

“The fire in the Moria refugee camp is a clear sign: Europe’s refugee policy cannot go on like this. Rapid joint European humanitarian aid is badly needed. If not all EU states are ready to provide this, at least a group of willing countries will have to go ahead. This applies to the humanitarian aid on site and our willingness to accommodate refugees, particularly those who are especially vulnerable.”

The Moria site was the largest refugee camp on Lesbos. It was built to hold fewer than 2,800 people, but at the time of the fire around 12,000 lived there, including more than 4,000 children. 

To address this humanitarian disaster and alleviate the pressure for the Greek island and its inhabitants in the long term, we call on the EU institutions and Member States to urgently ensure additional reception places are made available and utilised as quickly as possible. An EU relocation scheme must be established to share the responsibility with all Member States, to ensure swifter but fair asylum procedures, and to improve living conditions for those who remain on the island.

Commissioner Ylva Johansson will present the new Pact on Migration and Asylum later this month, improving the current system and ensuring solidarity across Europe.