In Lesbos, Greece, the situation is chaotic after the Moria camp fire. Thousands of migrants are without refuge. Violence and anger spread across the island.

In the shelter of a low wall on the asphalt, under a blazing sun, in the dust of a field crushed by the heat in the morning, but beaten by the winds when evening falls, the misery of the camp of Moria spread in the open. Thousands of refugees have no shelter after the fire that ravaged the camp on the night of Tuesday 8 to Wednesday 9 September.


The roads leading down to the port of Mytilene are overflowing with children. Families, babies, young people, crammed together in the greatest poverty on a piece of cardboard, under a plastic sheet, a tent or in a makeshift hut made of reeds. Everywhere, the same desolation summed up by an exhausted refugee. He arrived from Afghanistan long months ago: “We don’t know where to go. We are a family with a lot of children. There is nothing to eat. They are thirsty. Everything has been destroyed.”

A child holds up a cardboard box. It is written in German: “I fled the war, but now I am in danger in Moria. Please save me.” Greek army trucks block access to the island’s capital. The road to the former Moria camp is blocked by angry residents who do not want any more refugees. Chaos dominates. A gentleman rushes in, his son has gone mad and tried to stab him. Further on, a Congolese family appears, pushing a trash can loaded with some effects saved from the flames. “We sleep like that with little children, with two week old babies, tell members of this family. We are awaiting the reaction of the European Union. May we save the soul of these children who are there! Let them save my soul too. ”


Everywhere, the same fatigue in my eyes and the same cry. Whether you are young or old, Afghan, Congolese, Somali or Syrian, the demand is the same: to leave this island which has become a prison. Some Afghans improvise a demonstration. They shout “Freedom !” A young pregnant woman breaks down in tears. “It’s not food we want, She cries. I am not asking you for water. I just don’t want to live here anymore. We want to leave, there are too many problems in Greece. “

Nothing remains of the Moria camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos.
Nothing remains of the Moria camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos. (MARIE-PIERRE VÉROT / RADIO FRANCE)

The majority of the refugees no longer want a camp, whatever its nature, and demonstrated again on the weekend of September 12, coming under tear gas fire.


A few kilometers away, the Greek army is erecting tents, the government has promised a closed camp. Without doubt the worst solution for Sayed, he lived through the hell of Moria and now works for an NGO. He has a message for the leaders of the European Union: “If you don’t want to integrate these refugees, make it clear. It’s the least you can do, to be at least honest with yourself. Because locking people up in a camp is not a good solution. Every time you do that it will come back like a boomerang. Every time you restrict their rights you will put them under pressure. ” Europe, he concludes, will pay the price.

The despair of the refugees in Lesbos: listen to the report by Marie-Pierre Vérot



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