On 09.09.2020 around midnight the fire started at the Reception and Identification Centre of Moria in Lesvos. This is not the first time Moria has been on fire, but this time, it seems that the facility has suffered the most damage and has been almost completely destroyed. The administrative offices and health facilities, the National Asylum Service files, the UN and EASO facilities have all been destroyed.
There is no certainty as to the cause of the fire, but it seems that tensions among Moria residents were sparked when they realised that there were 35 positive cases of COVID19 in the camp and that the facilities would enter a phase of lockdown. According to local residents, the fire appears to have been an act of arson. Several fires broke out simultaneously in various places around the camp as well as in two other areas of the island as a distraction. The area around the Moria structure has been sealed off and access is prohibited. The government has declared Lesvos a state of emergency for the next four (4) months for public health reasons.
On 31 July 2020, Greece had ~121,000 migrants and refugees – 90,600 on the mainland and 30,400 on the islands. Reception centres on the islands remain overcrowded and conditions are deplorable. Many refugees live in inadequate tents or makeshift, makeshift shelters. Medical assistance and water and sanitation facilities continue to be inadequate. Women and girls face additional difficulties in safely accessing services. The five (5) reception centres on the Greek islands, designed for 5,400 people, accommodate over 30,000 people. The population of Moria was ~12,000 when the fire broke out.