Palestinian Refugees in Distress as Fire Breaks out at Refugee Camp on Greek Island of Samos

Palestinian Refugees in Distress as Fire Breaks out at Refugee Camp on Greek Island of Samos

Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze in an overcrowded camp for asylum seekers on the Greek island of Samos on late Monday, October 14, 2019 | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/Michael Svarnias

Three days after a deadly earthquake, a fire broke out in the refugee camp on Greece's Samos Island last week, burning down 15 tents, leaving at least 150 people without shelter.

Hundreds of Palestinian refugees have expressed deep concerns over the abject humanitarian condition in the camp, saying the situation has taken a turn for the worse due to the damage inflicted by the fire.

The blaze started at 4 a.m. local time and 21 firemen with seven vehicles battled for four hours to bring it under control.

The south-Aegean island of Samos was hit by a powerful earthquake that shook the region Friday and killed two teenagers on Samos and injured at least 19 other people on the island. The overall death toll in Friday's quake reached 85 in Turkey after teams found more bodies overnight amid toppled buildings in Izmir, the third-largest city.

The fire has once again revealed how desperate the situation in Greece's refugee camps has been. According to official figures, 4,200 people are sheltered at the Samos refugee camp, which was built for 600. Late September, two more fires had broken out in the camp as a result of arson.

In August, a fire destroyed the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, where prosecutors raised arson charges against four Afghan nationals. The Moria camp, has a capacity of just over 2,750 people but was housing more than 12,500 inside and in a spillover tent city that sprang up in an adjacent olive grove. It has been routinely criticized by rights groups and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for its lack of sanitation and overcrowding. Following the devastating fire, thousands have been forced to sleep in the open without access to food and water.

Since becoming one of the main gateways into Europe for migrants and asylum-seekers in 2015, Greece has built dozens of detention centers where overcrowding, poor hygiene, and absence of vital services are common.

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