‘Little Has Changed’ One Year after the Moria Fire in Greece

Statement from Refugees International Europe Advocate Daphne Panayotatos:

“One year after the fire that destroyed the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos, it is disheartening to see how little has changed.

From the wreckage had come some hope. Greek authorities pledged a swift response to support the tens of thousands of affected asylum seekers and the European Commission promised concrete solutions that would guarantee “no more Morias.” European leaders spoke of solidarity and citizens across Europe took action, showing their readiness to welcome asylum seekers into their communities.  

But today, asylum seekers in Greece still languish in camps on the islands and the mainland, including in the so-called “Moria 2.0.” New, EU-funded facilities meant to improve reception conditions will instead undermine residents’ access to services, freedom of movement, and prospects for inclusion. Recognized refugees lack critical integration support and policies restricting NGO operations block them from filling gaps in government services.

Meanwhile, the Commission’s proposed solution—the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum—fails to correct for flaws in existing policies and practices. Even with its misguided focus on keeping refugees out of Europe, it remains stalled in negotiations nearly one year after it was first introduced. Most recently, the response of EU leaders to the prospect of Afghans needing refuge has largely been devoid of solidarity even in its rhetoric. A policy of shifting rather than sharing responsibility persists.

Europe has an opportunity to show what a humane, rights-based response to displacement should look like. They must abandon long-standing policies of externalization and containment and instead fulfill their legal and moral obligations to grant protection to those who need it. One year after the fire, Greece and the EU need to finally enact meaningful reform and extend a real welcome to people seeking safety.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Refugees International Communications Officer Aviva Shwayder at aviva@refugeesinternational.org.  

Photo Caption: Migrants from the Moria camp, who arrived by ship from the island of Lesbos, are sitting in the port of Piraeus near Athens. (Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images)