The island of Lesvos will be emptied of refugees by next Easter, the Greek government has vowed, as it welcomed Germany’s offer to take in 1,500 people left without shelter.
Following the devastating fires that destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria facility last week, Greece’s top public order official said plans would be accelerated to decongest the outpost.
“They will all leave,” the civil protection minister, Michalis Chrysochoidis, told the Guardian. “Of the roughly 12,000 refugees here currently, I foresee 6,000 being transferred to the mainland by Christmas and the rest by Easter. The people of this island have gone through a lot. They’ve been very patient.”
About 70% of asylum seekers on Lesbos were Afghans who would be awarded refugee status and given travel papers, he said. Recognized refugees can move to another EU member state for up to three months using the documents.
Greek police detained five people on Tuesday in connection with the blazes at the camp, and are searching for one other. No more details were given but from the outset officials have attributed the fires to camp residents pressuring authorities to leave.
Chrysochoidis, who flew into Lesbos to help oversee relief efforts, welcomed reports that Germany was prepared to take in as many as 1,500 people from Moria.
Read more: The Guardian