The Greek police have arrested five Afghan migrants suspects for the arson at the Moria migrant camp last week, which destroyed nearly the entire camp, with police sources saying that five alleged arsonists all had their asylum applications rejected prior to the arson, according to German newspaper Bild.
“They are young migrants. Another one is still being sought,” said the Greek Minister for Civil Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis, on the state radio on Tuesday.
The fire, which ripped through the camp, displaced over 12,500 migrants living in overcrowded conditions, and left Greece scrambling to try and accommodate them in a number of makeshift facilities.
Even the Greek prime minister has accused the migrants as using the “tactic” as blackmail to gain access to mainland Europe.
“There is no doubt that Moria was burned by some hyperactive refugees and migrants who tried to blackmail the government by burning Moria down and demanded their immediate relocation from the island,” said Greek Prime Mnister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Migrants have set fire to the Moria Camp on three documented occasions over the last few years, but this latest fire has been by far the most devastating. In response to the migrants’ arson attack, nine of the 27 EU countries have agreed to take in 400 unaccompanied children and young people. Germany has committed to take in about 1,500 migrants, however, the German Green Party is pushing for even more.
Austria warns against giving into ‘pressure’
On Monday, it became known that Germany wants to take in 1,500 more migrants. In the EU, the federal government is currently pretty much alone with the project as many member states are currently waiting to see where the plans of the European Commission for a reform of migration and asylum policy will go.
As has been the case since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, Eastern European countries, such as Poland and Hungary continue to reject the acceptance of migrants
Like Denmark, Austria warns of a suction effect if Europe takes in more migrants.
“If we give in to this pressure now, we risk making the same mistakes as we did in 2015,” said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Even in countries like France, there is no broader debate about the admission of more refugees.
German Greens want to take in even more Moria migrants
Germany’s Greens do not go far enough with the promised acceptance of more than 1,500 refugees from Greece. The people on the island of Lesbos should be evacuated, said Green parliamentary group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt to ARD Morgenmagazin.
“This evacuation cannot be differentiated — as the federal government does — between those who have already passed the asylum procedure and those who have not.”
Instead, one has to look at how to distribute the migrants among the EU member states.
“I am in favor of saying: Those who want should please go first. And the others should then pay for it,” she said, which would mean that countries like Hungary that do not accept migrants will have to pay for them instead.
Göring-Eckardt had previously spoken out against rebuilding a camp like the one that had burned down in Moria.
“The ruins of Moria are the ruins of a system that we are never allowed to build again,” she warned, adding the camps were overcrowded because the procedures in Greece were taking so long, the Junge Freiheit reports.
Therefore, after a short health and safety check, the migrants should be quickly distributed within Europe.
On the other hand, criticism came from Germany’s Christian Democratic Union’s Economic Council. General Secretary Wolfgang Steiger warned that the reception of refugees from Greek camps could send “wrong signals”.
According to him, humanitarian aid is very important but must take place “on the spot on the islands”, as the Greek government itself wants. A pan-European solution is also needed but what governments should not do is send a “signal of departure to millions of people in Turkey”.
I wasn’t pressured to take this step, says Interior Minister Horst Seehofer
Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer defended Germany’s solo approach to accepting refugees.
“Nobody pushed me,” said the CSU politician, according to the DPA news agency, before a meeting of the Bundestag’s interior committee.
Regarding the demands of the Greens, the SPD, and the Left Party to use the willingness of many municipalities to take in more migrants, he said: “Those who demand this must also look to Italy, Malta, Spain, and the Balkans, where there are many more asylum seekers, and then explain in this country that Germany is a place to stay for all these refugees.“
Title image: Suspects, all from Afghanistan escorted by plain clothes policemen and wearing face masks, arrive at a court in Mytilene, the capital of the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. The government says the fires in Moria refugee camp were set deliberately by the Afghan migrants protesting a coronavirus lockdown, and authorities on Tuesday announced the arrests of six suspect, include two 17-year-olds, in the case. (AP Photo/Panagiotis Balaskas)