After the fires in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Germany wants to help the migrants there. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) announced this Friday during a joint press conference with EU migration commissioner Margaritis Schinas, who was connected via video, in Berlin. 13,000 people in Camp Moria have become homeless. “It’s a special humanitarian emergency,” Seehofer said.
Most important is on-the-spot help, Seehofer said. People need shelter and supplies again. The Greek government has submitted a list of requirements for this. Aid organizations in Germany are already working together to provide as much of the requested aid as possible.
The second point is assistance for unaccompanied minors. In total, ten EU countries want to participate in the resettlement. Germany and France would have the largest share, each with 100 to 150 children.
Another eight EU countries have committed to participate. The Netherlands would take in 50 children. But there are still talks with other countries, Seehofer said. An exact number for Germany cannot be given until these talks have been completed.
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The Moria camp was almost completely destroyed on Wednesday evening in several simultaneous fires. Instead of the planned 3,000 migrants, about 13,000 people were housed. The Greek government identified targeted arson as the trigger.
Some migrants are said to have started fires after quarantine was imposed on camp residents due to coronavirus infections. The “non-solution” in the negotiations for a common European asylum policy led to the current disastrous situation in Lesvos, Seehofer said.
Video 09/11/2020, 10:38 am: 43 min. Ten German municipalities want to accept refugees from Moria
According to Schinas, the European Commission will present a new attempt at a common EU refugee policy on September 30. The initiative has three elements. On the one hand, the aim is to provide more assistance to developing countries to ensure that people do not even leave their homes.
On the other hand, they want to protect the EU’s external borders better and “more robustly” with a new coastguard and more personnel. Third, they want to establish a permanent system of solidarity between all EU countries in order to face the challenges of asylum seekers.
Schinas said, “Moria no longer exists.” With the help of the EU, a new, more modern facility should be built in which asylum procedures can be carried out more quickly. He wanted to propose this to the Greek head of government.
He admitted that in 2016 the European Commission had failed to reach a first attempt at agreement on a common refugee policy. “Moria is a very strong reminder for us of what we need to change in Europe,” he said, referring to the burned down refugee camp.
Schinas also stressed that the EU has organized and funded the transfer of 400 unaccompanied minors from Lesvos to mainland Greece. The number of people in the refugee camp has already been reduced from 25,000 to 12,000 in recent months. That eased the situation on the island of Lesbos. “The situation would be much worse today without these efforts,” said the EU Commissioner.
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Previously, politicians and non-governmental organizations had asked Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to ensure that all migrants from the Greek islands are admitted to other EU countries. “The dramatic escalation in Lesvos makes it clear: those seeking protection from the Greek islands must be evacuated!” Said a letter to Merkel published by Pro Asyl on Friday.
“A catastrophe of this magnitude cannot be combated with minimal solutions – such as the transfer of 400 unaccompanied minors to mainland Greece. For all those affected, a permanent solution is needed – and that means acceptance in other European countries. Signatories to the letter also include Caritas, Diakonie, the associations Der Paritätische, Bread for the World and others.
The city leaders of ten major German municipalities had also written a joint letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Seehofer and expressed their willingness to accept refugees. In the letter they call on Merkel and Seehofer to pave the way for this. The letter is signed by the mayors of the following cities:
Bielefeld Düsseldorf Freiburg
In the letter, the city leaders confirmed their willingness to “make a humanitarian contribution to the humane housing of those seeking protection in Europe”: “We are ready to take in people from Moria to defuse the humanitarian catastrophe.”