Fires Break Out Europe’s Largest Migrant Camp in Lesbos

Published September 10th, 2020 - 05:57 GMT

A large fire broke out at Moria, Europe's largest refugee camp on Lesbos in Greece, forcing thousands including many families with children out into the streets with nowhere to sleep. 

A second fire aggravated the crisis on the island of Lesbos, where authorities have declared a state of emergency.

The first blaze, which began hours after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus at the Moria camp, sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves -- but nobody was seriously hurt.

While European countries from Germany to Norway -- along with EU chiefs -- responded with offers of help, Greek officials sought to blame migrants for the fire.

Stopping short of alleging arson, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the blaze was down to a "violent reaction" in the camp to virus testing.

Officials have declared a four-month emergency and flown in riot police after reports that security forces had blocked migrants from reaching Mytilene.

The fire at Moria -- which houses more than 12,000 people but was designed for just 2,800 -- raised questions about Europe's asylum system, with Germany leading the way in calling for an overhaul.

The first fire destroyed the official part of the camp, which housed roughly 4,000 people, ministers said. Another 8,000 lived in tents and makeshift shelters around its perimeter, many of which were badly damaged.

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A large fire broke out at Moria, Europe's largest refugee camp on Lesbos in Greece, forcing thousands including many families with children out into the streets with nowhere to sleep.   A second fire aggravated the crisis on the island of Lesbos, where authorities have declared a state of emergency.  The first blaze, which began hours after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus at the Moria camp, sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves.

A large fire broke out at Moria, Europe's largest refugee camp on Lesbos in Greece, forcing thousands including many families with children out into the streets with nowhere to sleep. A second fire aggravated the crisis on the island of Lesbos, where authorities have declared a state of emergency. The first blaze, which began hours after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus at the Moria camp, sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves.

A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.

A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.

A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.

A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.

A woman and children flee flames major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.

A woman and children flee flames major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.

A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.

A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.

A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.

A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.

Children sit on the ground in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.

Children sit on the ground in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.

A girl stands amid rubbles in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid

A girl stands amid rubbles in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid camp. The blaze started just hours after the migration ministry said that 35 people had tested positive at the camp. ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP

Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.

Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.

Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.

Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.

Migrants sit inside the burnt Moria Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020, after a major fire. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives early September 9, as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid camp.

Migrants sit inside the burnt Moria Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020, after a major fire. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives early September 9, as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid camp.

People stand in a street on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out in the camp of Moria, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.

People stand in a street on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out in the camp of Moria, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.

A large fire broke out at Moria, Europe's largest refugee camp on Lesbos in Greece, forcing thousands including many families with children out into the streets with nowhere to sleep.   A second fire aggravated the crisis on the island of Lesbos, where authorities have declared a state of emergency.  The first blaze, which began hours after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus at the Moria camp, sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves.
A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A woman and children flee flames major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
Children sit on the ground in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A girl stands amid rubbles in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid
Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.
Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.
Migrants sit inside the burnt Moria Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020, after a major fire. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives early September 9, as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid camp.
People stand in a street on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out in the camp of Moria, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A large fire broke out at Moria, Europe's largest refugee camp on Lesbos in Greece, forcing thousands including many families with children out into the streets with nowhere to sleep.   A second fire aggravated the crisis on the island of Lesbos, where authorities have declared a state of emergency.  The first blaze, which began hours after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus at the Moria camp, sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves.
A large fire broke out at Moria, Europe's largest refugee camp on Lesbos in Greece, forcing thousands including many families with children out into the streets with nowhere to sleep. A second fire aggravated the crisis on the island of Lesbos, where authorities have declared a state of emergency. The first blaze, which began hours after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus at the Moria camp, sent thousands fleeing for safety into surrounding olive groves.
A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A migrant holds a girl as they flee a fire burning in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A woman and children flee flames major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
A woman and children flee flames major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
A man carrying belongings flees flames after a major fire broke out in the Moria migrants camp on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos, on September 9, 2020.
Children sit on the ground in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
Children sit on the ground in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
A girl stands amid rubbles in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid
A girl stands amid rubbles in the burnt camp of Moria on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid camp. The blaze started just hours after the migration ministry said that 35 people had tested positive at the camp. ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP
Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.
Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.
Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.
Migrants take shower Children walk in the burnt migrants camp of Moria on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020 after a major fire broke out. Thousands of asylum seekers were left homeless on September 9 after a fire gutted Greece's largest migrant camp on Lesbos, plunging the island into crisis and provoking an outpouring of sympathy from around Europe and calls for reform of the refugee system.
Migrants sit inside the burnt Moria Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020, after a major fire. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives early September 9, as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid camp.
Migrants sit inside the burnt Moria Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on September 9, 2020, after a major fire. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives early September 9, as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility. Over 12,000 men, women and children ran in panic out of containers and tents and into adjoining olive groves and fields as the fire destroyed most of the overcrowded, squalid camp.
People stand in a street on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out in the camp of Moria, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.
People stand in a street on the island of Lesbos after a major fire broke out in the camp of Moria, on September 9, 2020. Thousands of asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos fled for their lives on September 9, 2020 as a huge fire ripped through the camp of Moria, the country's largest and most notorious migrant facility.