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Greek police arrest five over Lesbos fire, migrants resist new camp



LESBOS, Greece (Reuters) – Greek police have arrested five people over a fire that flattened the Moria refugee camp to the ground, a senior police official said on Tuesday as thousands of stranded migrants refused to move to a new facility and demanded to leave the Island of Lesbos.

Authorities were looking for one more person, said Civil Defense Minister Michalis Chrisohoidis, without giving further details.

More than 12,000 people, mostly refugees from Afghanistan, Africa and Syria, were left homeless, without adequate sanitation or access to food and water after a fire broke out in the overcrowded Moria migrant camp last Wednesday.

In a temporary camp in the Kara Tepe area with 5,000 beds available, only about 1,000 people had been relocated so far, according to a government official, adding that more space was being made available.

Migrants wearing masks as a precaution against coronavirus lined up in front of the camp gates to get water, food and blankets from aid workers before entering.

COVID-19 tests were also performed, and at least 25 people tested positive, further complicating efforts to resettle asylum seekers.

But many thousands more were reluctant to enter the tent camp, a police official said, fearing life would not be better than the poor conditions they went through in Moria and hoping to be allowed to leave the island.

Thousands of people, including women and children, spent the night in makeshift tents on a street outside the makeshift camp.

We have informed them that they should come to the facility, but they have refused, said the police official, speaking on condition of anonymity. They want to leave the island.

Germany could take up to 1,500 people trapped by the Mauritius fire, government sources said on Tuesday, in addition to the 100-150 Berlin has already agreed to take over.

Only a few hundred migrants, mostly unaccompanied minors, have been displaced outside Lesbos. Greek officials have said there will be no mass transfers and all asylum seekers will have to go to the new shelter.

No one will leave Lesbos without first entering the temporary camp, Civil Defense Minister Michalis Chrisohoidis told Skai radio.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday that no matter what, a permanent migrant reception center would be set up in Lesbos to replace the overcrowded refugee camp destroyed last week. [L8N2GA0DV]

European Council President Charles Michel, who arrived in Athens on Tuesday, was expected to visit Lesbos in the evening.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Vassilis Triandafyllou; Written by Renee Maltezou; Edited by Mike Collett-White

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