Essential work to restore Europe’s largest refugee centre has still not started after a fire nine months ago, according to Greece’s migration minister.
The rebuilding of the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos was supposed to have been finished before winter this year, but Notis Mitarachi confirmed that work had still not started during a trip to Brussels on Wednesday.
The Greek migration minister said that the tender process for choosing companies to build the new facility is currently underway and that obtaining the necessary licenses and environmental permits has taken time, as well as finalising EU funds.
Greek authorities said the fires at the Moria camp were started deliberately last September by migrants protesting the overcrowded living conditions.
The encampment was originally intended to host less than 3,000 people, but by the end, it held around 12,500 people and was locked down due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The new camp is foreseen to hold up to 5,000 people.
Mitarachi was asked whether he could ensure that migrants would not have to spend another winter in tents.
“In case we’re still not in the new camps in Lesbos, we have contingency planning to ensure that we will never again see these pictures we’ve seen in the temporary camp in Mavrovouni,” he responded.
The Mavrovouni camp was established after the Moria fire as a temporary emergency measure.
The Moria camp was built primarily to accommodate people fleeing conflict and poverty from countries like Libya and Syria.
The bloc’s Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson met with the Greek migrant minister on Wednesday and said a priority must be to “make mühlet that we will be able to have good winter conditions for migrants”.