Fire in Athens Refugee Camp Forces The Rebuilding of Greek Asylum System

Nicholas Millard, National and World News

         On September 29th, 2019, a fire erupted on the Greek island of Lesbos in the Moria refugee camp containing over 12,000 people. It’s currently unclear how the fire was started, the death count, and why it took so long for emergency services to arrive.  Although those questions have not been answered yet, it still caused large scale rioting throughout the small island. The main complaint of the refugees was that the camp was extremely overcrowded and in no shape to be a sufficient living space for people. For a good amount of time, the camp has been full, but in the last few months, the camp hit critical mass. It’s population of over 12,000 people, which is four times more than the camp is meant to hold, has been living in tents and shipping containers. There have been reports of children attempting to commit suicide in the camp because of the dreadful conditions. To sum it  up, the camp is in a deplorable state that even Greece recognizes, stating that the camp was “non-manageable.” This lack of care could be one large contributor to the spread of the fire and the hotly debated death toll of one to two people. The latter was stated to be a woman and a child. The fire directly caused a large scale riot of the camp’s inhabitants over the horrible treatment of the camp and the fire. Tear gas was fired during the scuffle between the police and the rioters. 

        On Monday, September 30th, the Greek government made the announcement that they will begin the process of ending the overcrowding of asylum seekers in their nation. They began by moving 250 people to try to ease the burden on the Moria refugee camp. The prime minister stated they will try to speed up the decision making process on the induction of asylum seekers. This decision does come from the pressure of the European Union over the previously reported overcrowding and poor management of the country’s steadily increasing refugee population. It’s to be seen if anything will truly get better. There is hope with the seemingly rapid change of rhetoric in Greek politics over this issue.