Blaze ravages Greek migrant camp & forces evacuations on eve of relocation to new ‘closed-style’ facility


Hundreds of people have been evacuated from a soon-to-be-closed Vathy migrant camp on the Greek island of Samos, after massive fire engulfed the facility just ahead of the planned relocation of its remaining residents.

Six fire engines were sent to the scene to contain the blaze, which according to authorities had started in a deserted area. “There is no danger for those who are still there because the fire broke out in abandoned sheds in the western side of the camp,” the Greek Ministry of Migration said.

The fire nevertheless forced a full evacuation, with several hundred people temporarily moved to an “empty space” near the entrance to the camp, while a handful of unaccompanied minors were transferred to a new facility.

The camp was due to shut down this week, but still housed some 300 to 500 migrants awaiting transfer.

Originally built to accommodate less than 700 people, Vathy sheltered up to 7,000 asylum-seekers at one point, often drawing criticism from human rights activists.

The new $50 million 12,000-square-meter “closed-style” facility was inaugurated this weekend. It features double barbed wire fence, surveillance cameras, x-ray scanners and magnetic doors, as well as a detention center for rejected asylum seekers.

Almost exactly a year ago, a fire ripped through the Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, devouring tents housing around 13,000 people. Greek investigators believe that the fire was deliberately started by the asylum seekers themselves in protest against the Covid-19 restrictions.

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