Palestinian Refugees under Pressure as Clashes, Fire Rock Greece Migrant Camp

Palestinian Refugees under Pressure as Clashes, Fire Rock Greece Migrant Camp

The overcrowded Vial refugee camp on Chios island hosts around 5,000 migrants. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images

One of Greece's largest migrant camps has been set alight after clashes broke out at Camp VIAL on the island of Chios.

Three asylum seekers have been arrested after violence started on 18 April.

Two cars, a canteen, tents and accommodation containers went up in a blaze near the identification and reception centre.

The camps are overcrowded with around 5,000 migrants living at VIAL, which was originally set up to accommodate 1,000 people.

The fire that has torn through the camp caused widespread damage and rendered up to hundreds of people homeless.

The blaze started following a protest over the death of a 47-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker who was cleared of having the coronavirus. But many residents at the overcrowded camp still believed she died of COVID-19.

The fire late on Saturday at Vial camp destroyed the facilities of the European asylum service, a camp canteen, warehouse tents and many housing containers, Migration Ministry Secretary Manos Logothetis told the AFP news agency.

"A large part of the camp's administrative services was destroyed," said Logothetis, adding that no injuries were reported.

The UN refugee agency's spokesperson in Athens, Boris Cheshirkov, said the damage was still being evaluated but that many camp residents have likely been left homeless.

"Authorities are still assessing the damage but a few hundred people are likely affected because their shelters have burned down. We have donated tents to the authorities which can quickly be put into use and we will assist in replacing the warehouse tents," he told the AFP.

Camps in Greece have been under quarantine in recent weeks, with authorities trying to keep residents apart from locals.

The virus has so far killed 116 people in Greece. Another 2,245 have been infected.

Palestinian refugees continue to risk their lives onboard the “death boats” to Greece, rummaging around for a momentary respite from violence and economic hardship. The fire is likely to leave hundreds of them without roofs over their heads in such a violence-prone area.

Short Link :