Some migrants move into tents after fire guts Greek camp

Migrants arrive at a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants arrive at a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Some asylum-seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos have moved into temporary tent housing, part of the thousands left homeless after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria migrant camp

MORIA, Lesbos (AP) — Some asylum-seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos moved into temporary tent housing Saturday, part of the thousands left homeless after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria migrant camp.

More than 100 people moved into the new camp built with UNHCR tents after first undergoing coronavirus tests. Over 12,000 people were left homeless after fires on Tuesday and Wednesday gutted the Moria camp in the midst of a coronavirus lockdown.

Officials say the blazes were deliberately set by some camp residents who were angry at quarantine orders imposed after 35 people in Moria tested positive for COVID-19. Thousands have spent four nights sleeping in the open under improvised shelters of reed stalks, blankets and salvaged tents.

The Moria camp was built to house around 2,750 but overcrowding led to more than 12,500 people living in squalor, and had been held up by critics as a symbol of the European Union's migration policy failings.

Authorities flew in the new tents by helicopter to avoid protests by residents angered at the use of their island as a holding center for thousands of people from the Mideast, Africa and Asia arriving from nearby Turkey.

The new camp has a capacity of around 3,000, although authorities have said they will provide housing for all left homeless. Plans to use a ferry as temporary accommodation for migrants have been stymied after local officials demanded to know how long the ship would be used.

Some children among the first families to move into the new tent camp discovered a small beach nearby and were playing in the water.

Earlier Saturday, many migrants held a mostly peaceful protest demanding to be allowed to leave the island, a gathering that also drew supporters with Black Lives Matter signs.

“We need peace & freedom. Moria kills all lives,” read one. One scuffle with riot police broke out but was short-lived.

Leaving the island would require bending EU rules, under which asylum-seekers reaching Greek islands must stay until they are either granted refugee status or deported back to Turkey.

Authorities say none of the camp’s residents — except for 406 unaccompanied minors — will be allowed to leave Lesbos. Those teens and children were flown to the Greek mainland on Wednesday, and several European countries will take some of them in.

Other countries have pledged assistance for a new camp to be built on Lesbos, a development that neither local residents nor the migrants want.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz underlined his hardline stance on migration in a Facebook video on Saturday.

“Some migrants have set alight and destroyed the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos to create pressure so that they can get from Lesbos to the European mainland,” Kurz said. "If we give way to this pressure, we risk making the same mistake as in 2015. We risk people getting up false hopes and setting off for Greece, the smuggling business flourishing and once again countless people drowning in the Mediterranean.”

“What we want to and will do is help on the spot, so that humane supply and accommodation is ensured," Kurz said.

Human Rights Watch said the Moria fires “highlight the failure of the European Union’s ‘hotspot approach.’" It demanded that European nations take responsibility to support asylum-seekers and that Greece make sure it respects human rights as it responds to the fire.

Many asylum-seekers described life in Moria as being worse than much of what they had endured on their long, painful journeys toward a better life in Europe.

“While in Africa, we walked from 7 p.m. till 5 a.m. in the morning to avoid the heat and the police. That was hard. But being here, stuck, I think is worse,” said Amados Iam, a 23-year-old from Mauritania. “I didn’t come all the way to stay here. (I) want to leave Greece.”

Iam arrived in Moria three months ago with his 19-year-old brother. Both have suffered severe stomach issues, and Iam said a doctor in Lesbos told them it was due to the poor living conditions, including bad quality water and food.

The brothers left Mauritania in 2017, crossing North Africa on foot and then making their way by truck to Turkey. Drought had ruined their mother’s farm, so Iam couldn’t continue studying, and the brothers feared conscription or being killed by the armed groups coming in from Mali.

All their paperwork had been completed but the brothers have heard nothing about the status of their asylum request, they said. Their intended destination is France or Belgium.

___

Becatoros reported from Athens, Greece. Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

A migrant stands outside a tent at a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A migrant stands outside a tent at a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Children play as Greek soldiers install tents at a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Children play as Greek soldiers install tents at a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Greek soldiers set up UNHCR tents at a shooting range to accommodate refugees, in Lesbos Island, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Some thousands of refugees and migrants have spent a third night in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos after two consecutive nights of fires in the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp left them homeless. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Greek soldiers set up UNHCR tents at a shooting range to accommodate refugees, in Lesbos Island, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Some thousands of refugees and migrants have spent a third night in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos after two consecutive nights of fires in the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp left them homeless. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants arrive a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants arrive a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants sit next to the tents at a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants sit next to the tents at a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants wait in queue to enter a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants wait in queue to enter a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

A migrant holds her baby as she runs to avoid a small fire in a field near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A migrant holds her baby as she runs to avoid a small fire in a field near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Protesters chant slogans during a rally in support of the migrants on the island of Lesbos, in Athens, Saturday, Sep. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Protesters chant slogans during a rally in support of the migrants on the island of Lesbos, in Athens, Saturday, Sep. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Credit: Yorgos Karahalis

Credit: Yorgos Karahalis

Migrants scuffle to take bottles of water during a distribution by local authorities near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants scuffle to take bottles of water during a distribution by local authorities near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

A woman reacts as a girl hugs her during minor clashes between riot police and migrants near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (John Liakos/InTime News)
A woman reacts as a girl hugs her during minor clashes between riot police and migrants near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (John Liakos/InTime News)

Credit: John Liakos

Credit: John Liakos

Police block the road as migrants protest near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Police block the road as migrants protest near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants scuffle to take bottles of water during a distribution by local authorities near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants scuffle to take bottles of water during a distribution by local authorities near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

A migrant walks near a small fire in a field near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A migrant walks near a small fire in a field near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants cook on the roadside near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants cook on the roadside near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

A protester raises a placard during a rally in support of the migrants on the island of Lesbos, in Athens, Saturday, Sep. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
A protester raises a placard during a rally in support of the migrants on the island of Lesbos, in Athens, Saturday, Sep. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Credit: Yorgos Karahalis

Credit: Yorgos Karahalis

A man kicks a tear gas canister during minor clashes between riot police and migrants near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (John Liakos/InTime News)
A man kicks a tear gas canister during minor clashes between riot police and migrants near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (John Liakos/InTime News)

Credit: John Liakos

Credit: John Liakos

Migrants scuffle to take bottles of water during a distribution by local authorities near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants scuffle to take bottles of water during a distribution by local authorities near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Thousands of asylum-seekers spent a fourth night sleeping in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos, after successive fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp during a coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Protesters attend a 'Die-in' in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020 to protest against the fires that devastated the Moria refugee camp on the greek island of Lesbos. The protesters believe that the Swiss government should support Greece and take in migrants stranded on the island of Lesbos. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
Protesters attend a 'Die-in' in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020 to protest against the fires that devastated the Moria refugee camp on the greek island of Lesbos. The protesters believe that the Swiss government should support Greece and take in migrants stranded on the island of Lesbos. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

Credit: Laurent Gillieron

Credit: Laurent Gillieron

Migrants enjoy the sea next to a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants enjoy the sea next to a temporary camp near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Greek authorities have been scrambling to find a way to house more than 12,000 people left in need of emergency shelter on the island after the fires deliberately set on Tuesday and Wednesday night gutted the Moria refugee camp. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris