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Press Release

Over 12,000 people left stranded in Lesvos after a fire engulfs Moria reception centre; IRC providing mental health support to survivors

A fire has engulfed Moria reception centre, leaving more than 12,000 people stranded in the streets of Lesvos. At least 35 people are known to have tested positive for COVID-19.

Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, IRC Greece Country Director​, said:

“Events in Moria last night are unthinkable but, tragically, predictable as the dire situation on the islands has gone on for far too long.

“Everyone who was living in the camp has now been evacuated, and while there have been no official reports of injuries we are hearing reports that say otherwise. Those who were living in Moria are now left with nothing; already traumatised people have now lost what few belongings they had.

“The IRC provides mental health support to people living in the camp, and our team of psychologists are on hand and ready to support our clients, staff and volunteers affected by the fire. Our team is also ready to distribute sleeping bags and other urgent items. 

“What needs to happen next must take into account the safety of survivors. Of course, COVID-19 remains a real risk and the government has declared a state of emergency. Safe accommodation must be set up, and mass testing provided to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It is high time that EU countries work with the Greek government to urgently relocate refugees and asylum-seekers not only to the Greek mainland but also to other EU countries. People have been living in limbo on the islands for years, and the upcoming EU Pact on Asylum and Migration provides an opportunity to bring this to an end that must not be missed."

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.