Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis called on all homeless migrants on the island of Lesbos to move into a new, temporary tent camp immediately, after a huge fire destroyed their previous homes.
“From next Monday, asylum procedures will only be processed for those who are in the camp,” the minister said on Monday on Greek radio station Parapolitika.
The tent camp was set up in the past few days after a fire at the Moria refugee camp, at the time the largest of its kind in Europe.
The new camp can currently accommodate more than 5,000 migrants, Mitarakis said, and would be expanded in the coming days to have space for all 12,000 homeless migrants on the island.
Mitarakis once again warned those migrants who were preventing others from moving into the makeshift tent camp that the authorities had set up together with aid organizations over the past few days.
“We know exactly who it is,” he said, accusing this same group of starting the fire that destroyed Moria camp. Greece will not allow itself to be blackmailed, he added.
On Monday, numerous migrants took to the streets of Lesbos again and demanded that they be taken to Western Europe. Most of the Afghan demonstrators chanted “Azadi! Azadi!” or freedom in the Pashto and Dari languages spoken in Afghanistan, state television ERT reported.
Facing pressure to act, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised a decision on taking in more refugees by Wednesday, according to party sources.
Merkel is in touch with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and also plans meetings with regional mayors on implementing a relocation of some of the now-homeless Moria residents, members of her Christian Democrats (CDU) told dpa following high-level party talks on Monday.
The German government is said to still be focusing on a joint European solution to the humanitarian crisis.
Five years ago, Germany acted unilaterally in letting hundreds of thousands of stranded migrants into the country at the peak of the European refugee crisis, in a defining moment in Merkel’s career that earned her international praise but also damaged her popularity at home.
Germany will make a “substantial contribution,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday.
Seibert noted that the Greek government has accepted responsibility for the people on Lesbos. “It is a unique emergency,” he added.
On Friday, Seehofer announced that Germany would take in 100-150 children as part of a joint European initiative for unaccompanied minors. Talks are also said to be planned with Athens on relocating families with children.
The CDU’s Social Democrat coalition partners have slammed the response as paltry, calling for thousands of migrants to be taken in.