After the fire

for New Frame, Lesvos 2020

On  8 September 2020, Moria Camp, the biggest refugee camp in Europe and a symbol of the continent’s inhumane policy towards migrants, burst into flames.When the fires broke out, people left in a panic, grabbing their children and leaving behind their few possessions. When the fires broke out, people left in a panic, grabbing their children and leaving behind their few possessions. Many settled on a one-and-a-half kilometre stretch of coastal road, close to Mytilene, the small capital of Lesbos. Migrants slept on the pavement and used trees and foliage to erect makeshift shelters to protect themselves from the sun. It seemed unthinkable, but life had just become even worse than in Moria. There was limited access to food, water, sanitation or health care. Greek police erected checkpoints at both ends of the road, keeping people in. 

Hopes that they would be transferred to the mainland were shattered when information came to light that a new camp was being built. Many were afraid it would simply be a continuation of the situation they faced in Moria and refused to leave the stretch of road. For over a week, daily protests were held, calling for their freedom. These were met by Greek security forces, who used teargas and stun grenades on the protesters. But the will to resist was quashed as it became known that unless they moved to the new camp, their asylum applications would not be processed. In the new camp, a policy of deprivation continues, with limited access to food, water and health care and no proper sanitation facilities. People who have tested positive for Covid-19 are in a separated area but get no special treatment. The experience of the fire, living on the street and now the uncertainty of the new camp, puts a heavy burden on the already strained mental health of many in the camp. 

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