The police in the camp evacuated everyone in time and ensured no lives were lost, especially those in
detention in Section B. The unaccompanied minors were evacuated from the afternoon to be out of harm’s way. Eventually were accommodated in PIKPA. They will soon be transferred to the mainland. The fire was put out by the fire brigades. The police also stopped the refugees from going through the village towards the city, thus avoiding a confrontation.
Two ambulances and a mobile clinic were outside the camp to give first aid and transport people to the hospital (30 people). Around 20 people had to make statements to the police on the fire and eight are detained. A number of volunteer groups were present that night to provide food, water and psychological support. In the end two sections of the camp were burnt and it is calculated around 1,000 people have lost their shelters. The government is looking at renting a ferry to shelter about that number of people for a month or two.
On Monday morning (before the fire) there was a demonstration of the locals from Moria village demanding the decongestion of the camp and commitment from the authorities that another camp will not be built in their area. The anger was directed at the central authorities and the mayor. In the demonstration of about 300 people, there were some local Golden Dawn supporters. Calling everyone who expressed concern about the residents, a ‘fascist’ just like that, for a year, is now yielding results: fascists are indeed infiltrating local groups.
According to the official statement of the fire brigades, during Monday, in three fires, 16 acres of olive trees and dry bush, 50 tents and RHUs, three containers, cloths and rubbish were burnt. Four students were beaten by Golden Dawn during the demonstration and one hospitalised and a policeman was injured by refugees during the riots in Moria and hospitalised. Recently -and unrelated- national staff in NGOs have been sacked due to downsizing in Lesvos. No posts in facebook about any of this. Seems the humanity of volunteers does not extend that far. It does not consider the financial situation of most locals, indeed most Greeks.
There have been statements from Coexistence (local NGO) and the Coordinating Body of Associations of Lesvos, consisting of the professionals (lawyers, doctors, tourism etc) both expressing concern over the dangerous situation developing on the island and asking for the decongestion of the hotspot and move of refugees to the mainland.
Lately it seems these volunteer facebook groups have become a fundraising platform. This time, things are out of control. Before the fire was out, people were asking for funding without knowing what the extent of the damage was, what the needs would be and what gaps would be left by government and large organisations. It also became a platform for self promotion through the media who are not present on the ground.
Recently also, I note the administrators are trying to silence those who do not play along. They control who can talk and who not. There is frequent shutting down opinions which do not pat volunteers on the back and try to explain complexities not often understood. Are we now going to have to explain ourselves as Greeks, as we do for the economic crisis? The same EU-imposed wrong solutions, same mistrust, same colonial attitude? Please do not tell me how much you appreciate what Greek people are doing and how many friends you have here. I am not interested.
Let’s try to focus on the positives of this tense situation, which is that lives were saved and let’s isolate the extreme voices. But this includes many among international volunteers.