There were no reports of injuries so far, and authorities said they were still assessing the extent of the damage. George Matafis, a cameraman on the ground, told Greek TV channel Mega that the camp was “completely destroyed.”
“The Moria camp is no longer there. The camp has been completely destroyed. The containers and tents have been completely destroyed. The fires are now extinguished. Many migrants and refugees have now returned to the camp and are looking for their possessions,” Matafas said.
Greek authorities said the cause of the fire was still unknown. The camp is closed after 35 people tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week. And local media indicated that the fires may have started deliberately.
A German charity group at the scene said that a demonstration broke out in the camp on Tuesday evening to protest against the closure measures.
“In the evening, anger and despair arose out of the refugees detained in Moria,” German group Mission Liveline said in a statement.
“Initially, there was a dispute in the Covid 19 station in the camp that spread to the entire area during the night. The security forces used tear gas,” the statement said. “A large part of the houses have been burned. The displaced have fled to the surrounding olive groves.”
Mission Life co-founder Axel Steyr said he had warned that the situation would “escalate” due to poor camp conditions, describing the lockdown measures as “the last straw.”
“People in Moria are under severe psychological pressure,” said Steer. “Now closing the camp is the straw that broke the camel’s back.” “Refugees in Moria are not treated as human beings.
“Among other things, we have asked the (German) federal government over and over to evacuate all people from the Greek camps. But almost nothing happened,” Stier added.
The Moria camp extends from the main UN camp to the olive groves where thousands live in makeshift log huts built from wood pellets and tarpaulin, hammered with nails. Residents say they wait hours to use the bathroom, and sometimes spend an entire day waiting for food.