Greek gov’t struggles to persuade refugees into new camp

By Ingrid Haack

Athens, Sep 15 (efe-epa).- Greek authorities are struggling to convince former residents of Moria refugee camp to move to temporary accommodation a week after a devastating fire.

The government has launched an information campaign to persuade the nearly 12,000 people camped on roads on the island of Lesbos to move to the temporary site.

“Your temporary accommodation center is ready. Please go immediately to the camp,” an official leaflet said.

“Accommodation there is mandatory and your admission is necessary to ensure decent living conditions, and for public and personal health reasons.

“In addition, to re-establish asylum procedures.”

Kara Tepe camp currently has room for 5,000 people in just under 700 UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) tents and only has temporary toilets but there are plans to install showers and running water.

Many of the people living in small tents or makeshift shelters around Moria say they do not believe the new site will have food or water.

“Camp no good, closed. No food, no water, problem,” a group of families says almost in unison to a local news crew.

There have been daily demonstrations since the fire with people calling for “peace and freedom”.

The majority of those who inhabited Moria were from Afghanistan and Pakistanistan followed by people from Africa and a few Syrians.

Some have organized themselves in the parking lot of a large supermarket and two gas stations, forcing the businesses to close.

Many families are in makeshift shelters and cook potatoes or rice using pots mounted on stones by small fires.

There are a lot of women with children and babies, with the little ones running around playing and shouting “Germany, Germany”.

The German government has offered to take 1,500 stranded asylum seekers from the island, not only unaccompanied children but also families.

Meanwhile, the Greek government has struggled to persuade people to move to Kara Tepe, despite threats that they will not be able to leave the island if they do not.

“We have prepared this camp so that you can safely wait for your departure from Lesbos as soon as possible once the legal procedures have been completed,” the leaflet said.

“Only if you enter the camp can you make the necessary procedures to leave Lesbos.”

The flyer, which has been translated into several languages, warned them not to pay attention to rumors or fake news but only official government announcements.

Greece’s citizen protection minister Michalis Chrisochoidis said Tuesday that half of Moria’s former residents should have been relocated to mainland Europe by Christmas, with the rest due to follow by Easter.

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