You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

18 arrested over Greek refugee camp fire

dpadpa 19/09/2016

Thousands of migrants have been evacuated from a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos after a large fire destroyed tents and prefabricated homes.

Greek police have arrested 18 migrants following a fire at a refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, the Athens-based newspaper Kathimerini reports.

Fighting, and then later a fire, broke out at the overcrowded Moria camp on Monday night, forcing up to 4,000 residents to flee and scatter across the island following a weekend of citizen and camp protests at the site.

The arrested men from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Senegal and Syria are suspected of starting the fire and of fighting inside and outside the so-called refugee reception "hot spot" on the island.

A least nine of them will face arraignment before a custodial judge, the newspaper said.

More than 60 per cent of the camp is believed to have been destroyed in the fire.

Camp occupants on the island have been demanding for some time to be allowed to travel to the Greek mainland, to escape overcrowded conditions in the Moria camp.

The situation on the island is uncertain, with thousands of migrants now homeless and barred from the Greek mainland. The migrants are due to be returned to Turkey as part of a deal between the European Union and Ankara.

Authorities on Lesbos are calling for the immediate evacuation of thousands of refugees to the Greek mainland.

Regional governor Christiana Kalogirou said she had repeatedly warned the government that camps on the east Aegean Sea islands were dangerously overcrowded.

The government is expected to charter passenger ferries to provide temporary accommodation, and to increase the police presence on the five islands where refugees are being held.

"We have been saying for a very long time that overcrowding on the islands must be eased,'' Kalogirou told private Skai television.

"On the islands of the northeast Aegean, official facilities have a capacity of 5,450 places, but more than 10,500 people are there. There is an immediate need to take people off the islands because things will get even more difficult.''

More than 60,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in transit in Greece, and those who arrived after March 20 have been restricted to five Aegean islands under a European Union-brokered deal to deport them back to Turkey. But the agreement has been fraught with delays.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon