Minors among six suspects to face Greek prosecutor over migrant camp fire

Six young men including two minors were to face a prosecutor on the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday on suspicion of setting fires that destroyed Europe's largest migrant camp last week.

Asylum seekers have been sleeping rough on Lesbos island since the overcrowded Moria camp was gutted in an apparent arson attack.
Asylum seekers have been sleeping rough on Lesbos island since the overcrowded Moria camp was gutted in an apparent arson attack. © Louisa Gouliamaki, AFP

The suspects, all Afghan nationals aged 20 or below, are to be arraigned after midday, local officials said.

Two of them, aged 17, had initially been taken off the island in a mass operation to put unaccompanied minors out of harm's way, state agency ANA reported.

Greek officials had insisted from the start that the fires that destroyed the Moria camp, leaving over 12,000 people homeless, were the result of arson.

Earlier Wednesday, 13 migrants were detained on the island of Samos after a fire broke out near the local camp that houses over 4,700 people.

Most were later released but three remain under questioning, a local police source told AFP.

On Lesbos, crews this week hastily put together another tent camp which according to EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson will eventually accommodate up to 9,000 people.

On Tuesday, the Greek migration ministry said roughly 1,000 of the 12,000 Moria migrants had been housed at the site. Among them, 25 have tested positive for coronavirus.

But thousands have been sleeping on the street for the past week, with limited access to food and no sanitation for families including elderly and newborns.

Germany to take in 1,500 migrants

Five years after the arrival in Europe of over a million asylum seekers, many fleeing wars in Iraq and Syria, the question over how the bloc should share out its refugee responsibilities remains sensitive. 

European Council chief Charles Michel, flying to Lesbos after talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens, urged the 27-nation bloc to "take more responsibilities."

Germany has offered to take in 1,553 refugees from Greece, on top of the 150 unaccompanied minors from Moria.

France has agreed to take in 150 minors from the camp while other EU nations are admitting a total of 100 other youngsters from Moria.

The EU Commission is expected to present proposals on a new European asylum policy within weeks.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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