Fire in Moria: a foreseeable disaster?

A huge fire has destroyed most of the Moria refugee camp in Greece, leaving thousands of inhabitants homeless. More than 12,000 asylum seekers were living in the camp, which was designed to accommodate 2,800 people and had recently recorded its first cases of coronavirus.

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De Tijd (BE) /

We still can't do it

Europe still has no migration policy to speak of, De Tijd notes bitterly:

“The highly controversial deal between Turkey and the EU was a first step towards such a policy. But five years later it's clear that we're still letting Greece shoulder the burden. ... The events in Moria show that European migration policy is still insufficient. Five years ago Angela Merkel spoke the words: 'We can do it'. In the meantime steps have been taken to achieve a difficult goal: a decent migration policy that is also sufficiently supported by European citizens. However anyone who sees the images from Moria has to admit that we still can't do it.”


Silent accomplices

Director, writer and actor Nicolas Androulakis wishes that there were really demonstrations of solidarity for the refugees. In a Facebook post republished by TVXS he writes:

“From Athens to every capital in Europe. ... But we're not that far yet. Because we are all trembling inside. Afraid of what we could lose. Of what could happen to us. For so many years we have in practice turned a blind eye. ... Because we are all silent accomplices in these inhuman equations of capitalism and the Western way of life. This has devastated the Middle East and Africa, established dynasties, triggered civil wars, tossed tonnes of oil and money into the fire of religious extremism. Which is why these people are forced to risk everything to live a little like us. And we tremble.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Letting them all in would send the wrong signal

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung urges Germany to exercise restraint in taking in the refugees:

“If social peace is accepted as a key asset, then the strategy for dealing with the people of Moria must be the result of careful political consideration. It is clear that help is needed. Bringing all or most of them to Germany would not be a problem in terms of numbers. However it would send the wrong signal. Not only could it have a pull effect, but above all those European countries that do not want to participate in a common asylum policy would feel confirmed in their position.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Set up an air bridge to Lesbos

For the Frankfurter Rundschau the first thing to do is prevent further escalation:

“Lesbos needs emergency aid immediately and can't wait for an agreement on European asylum policy. It needs an international airlift similar to those set up in other crises. Tents, drinking water, and coronavirus test stations must be flown in, and a large number of refugees must be quickly evacuated from the island to mainland Greece, Germany and other EU countries willing to take them in. People's lives are at stake. There has already been too much political manoeuvring.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Coalitions of the willing have great potential

The EU states shouldn't wait until they can reach an agreement on the migration issue, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung urges:

“Perhaps it helps to admit that the 27-member EU is not a community of values but an alliance that spans many different values and points of view. ... However, that doesn't mean that Europeans are condemned to inaction when it comes to migration policy. Time and again recently we've seen that individual states can lead by example when it comes to taking in boat refugees, negotiating redistribution, sending in asylum officers or reaching agreements with third countries. Such 'coalitions of the willing' represent perhaps the most promising approach in European refugee policy right now.” (DE) /

Not worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize

The fire shows the EU in a poor light, comments

“Moria is a hell made in Brussels. ... The EU moralists, who happily react to every misery in the world with indignation and a bold declaration by all the EU foreign ministers, are the hypocrites. ... The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not only apply beyond the EU's external borders, it also applies in a camp where young people have tried with pills and knives to take their own lives in their despair. It applies in a camp with one supermarket for around 13,000 people. It applies where there was no soap, and where water to shower was only available for two and a half hours a day. It applies where the prospects for the future were as big as the blue plastic tarpaulin over your head. ... The Nobel Peace Prize-winning EU should reconsider the issue of human dignity.”

Avgi (GR) /

Willingly doing the dirty work

The leftist daily Avgi criticises Greece's role:

“The root of all the tragedies we are experiencing in the refugee crisis is the decision of the Mitsotakis government to stop the wave of refugees in the name of all Europe. This includes repatriation by sea and the establishment of concentration camps on the islands, which are prohibited under international law but encouraged by our [EU] partners. Instead of demanding practical solidarity, technical assistance and relocation from the Europeans, Greece willingly did the dirty work, believing this would score it brownie points with the conservative sections of society.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Deterrence as the lowest common denominator

The Tages-Anzeiger sees in the fire a symbol of Europe's failure:

“European taxpayers' money should easily have been enough to guarantee adequate accommodation and fast procedures. But yes, the other EU states, including Switzerland as a signatory of the Dublin Regulation on asylum, have also failed. The catastrophic conditions in Moria were no secret and were probably meant to act as a deterrent. Here there is a silent agreement between the Europeans who, on top of everything else, can't agree on anything. ... It's high time European asylum centres with uniform procedures were set up along the external borders. And European repatriation agreements with the most important countries of origin established. ... Then the question of redistribution, which has blocked every European asylum reform so far, would no longer be so politically explosive.”

Kurier (AT) /

Back to the facts

The consequences of the fire are clear, as far as Kurier is concerned:

“For years international organisations and NGOs have been calling attention to the catastrophic conditions. Yet only a handful of European countries were willing to accept a few dozen unaccompanied minors. Austria, incidentally, was not, on the grounds that the 'pull factor' would be too big. ... But first of all, that hasn't been proven, and secondly, the number of migrants has fallen sharply recently. ... The debate should be based on facts and focus on two key points: whether we like it or not, our ageing continent will need more workers (keyword: care). And people who have no prospects in their home country will keep coming. ... That's why Europe needs a uniform policy that shows solidarity.”