Greece (MNN) — Last week, over 12,000 refugees fled the Moria camp on Lesbos as it burned to the ground. Now, many have moved into a new camp being hastily built nearby on the shores of the Aegean Sea.
The Greek government maintains the fire was set intentionally and has charged 4 Afghan refugees with the crime. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the fire.
People from over 70 countries sheltered at Moria, though most hail from Afghanistan. Liz Steggall Lewis of TeachBeyond says, “Presently, the Greek government and army have been working day and night to set up a temporary tent city that’s right there on the Aegean. Right now, that space where they’re setting up UNHCR tents is about 10 times the size of the former camp.”
The Moria camp packed thousands of people into a space the size of a Walmart, forcing many to live in squalor and leaving the camp severely vulnerable to COVID-19.
A tense situation
Lewis says, “We’ve in some ways been waiting for something like this to happen, because of the heightened tensions among people there on Lesbos. Those people in the camps really want freedom and they want to be treated with dignity and respect. The local Greeks have felt like the mainland has abandoned them and Greece feels like Europe has abandoned them.”
These refugees should be heading to the European mainland, but that’s not happening quickly. Lewis lays blame on prevailing attitudes in Europe. “It’s just as we’ve seen, just more anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe.” Many refugees are choosing not to enter the camp, fearing they will be trapped and unable to ever get to Europe. They have been sleeping in rough conditions since the fire, camping on the roads and in olive groves.
Both refugees and locals have begun protesting the situation. They share this goal in common: the refugees need to leave Lesbos and proceed to the European mainland. Pray this will happen, and that many will find hope in Jesus Christ.
The header image shows a protest in Germany after the Moria refugee camp fire. (Photo by noah eleazar on Unsplash)