A Humanitarian Crisis in Greece

Among the olive groves of Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos, a makeshift city of tents and containers housed thousands of asylum seekers who had fled conflict and hardship in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere.

Already frustrated at the deplorable conditions, inhabitants’ anger was compounded by coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The situation reached a breaking point this month when fires were set, probably by a small group of irate asylum seekers, according to the authorities. The flames decimated the camp and stranded nearly 12,000 of its residents in the wild among tombstones in a nearby cemetery and on rural and coastal roads.

We chart the European refugee crisis and the events that led up to the blaze at Moria.

Guest: Matina Stevis-Gridneff, who covers the European Union for The New York Times.

For more information on today’s episode, visit nytimes.com/thedaily 

Background reading: 

  • The fires at the Moria camp have intensified what was already a humanitarian disaster. Originally built to hold 3,000 newly arrived people, it held more than 20,000 refugees six months ago
  • The camp’s inhabitants had for years resented the squalid conditions and the endless delays in resolving their fates. Those frustrations collided with the restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus, and the combination has proved explosive.
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