Greek minister: 5,000 move into new refugee camp on Lesbos

Migrants wait to enter a new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants wait to enter a new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Greece's migration minister says more than 5,000 asylum seekers left homeless after the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp on the island of Lesbos burnt down have now been housed in a new camp

KARA TEPE, Greece (AP) — More than 5,000 asylum seekers left homeless after Greece's notoriously overcrowded Moria camp on the island of Lesbos burnt down have now been housed in a new facility, the country's migration minister said Thursday afternoon.

Speaking on the island, Notis Mitarachi said rapid coronavirus tests found 135 of the former residents of Moria positive for the coronavirus, and these people were being kept "in special areas where they receive the appropriate medical conditions."

More than 12,000 people had been sleeping rough by a roadside since the squalid Moria camp burnt down last week. Authorities said the fires were set deliberately by a small group of migrants angered by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions imposed after an outbreak in the camp. Six Afghans, including two minors, have been arrested on suspicion of arson.

Police launched an operation Thursday morning to persuade people to move from the roadside into the new camp in the island's Kara Tepe area. The operation included 70 female police officers and no violence was reported.

“As long as it is peaceful, we believe it is a good move,” said Astrid Castelein, head of the U.N. Refugee Agency’s office on Lesbos. “Here on the street it is a risk for security, for public health, and it’s not dignity which we need for everyone.”

The new site consists of large family tents erected in an old army firing range by the sea. By late Wednesday, it had a capacity of around 8,000 people, according to the UNHCR.

New arrivals are tested for COVID-19, registered and assigned a tent.

“This is an operation for the protection of public health and with a clear humanitarian mission,” the police said in a statement.

Moria had a capacity of just over 2,700 people, but more than 12,500 had been living in and around it when it burned down. The camp was held up by critics as a symbol of Europe’s failed migration policies.

“It is critical that Europe demonstrates tangible solidarity to the pressure that the Greek islands have had over the last few years,” said Mitarachi, the migration minister.

The European Union is due to issue proposals to overhaul the bloc's migration policy next week in an effort to end years of division among member states. As a frontier state, Greece is pressing for increased participation by other EU members in relocation schemes — unpopular with many central and East European countries — but has also suggested that alternative obligations may be assigned to countries wishing to opt out of relocation.

Speaking at a debate in the European Parliament on the situation in Greece, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said that “there can be no more Morias,” and that it was time for a fresh start on migration.

Several EU members have offered to take in refugees from Greece, led by Germany which says it will take in 1,553 refugees from Greek island camps who have had their asylum applications approved. ___

Becatoros reported from Athens. Geir Moulson in Berlin, Raf Casert and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels, and Derek Gatopoulos in Athens contributed. ___ Follow Becatoros at https://twitter.com/ElenaBec

Migrants wait to enter a new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe,near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants wait to enter a new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe,near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants carry goods as they walk outside the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants carry goods as they walk outside the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

A child sits between plastic bags as migrants pull their belongings in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A child sits between plastic bags as migrants pull their belongings in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

A child sits atop of plastic bags as other migrants carry their belongings on their way to the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A child sits atop of plastic bags as other migrants carry their belongings on their way to the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants sleep on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants sleep on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

A migrant with a blanket stands on a rooftop of a building as others gather on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A migrant with a blanket stands on a rooftop of a building as others gather on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

A boy and a man carry their belongings on their way to the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A boy and a man carry their belongings on their way to the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Greek police are moving hundreds of migrants to an army-built camp on the island of Lesbos Thursday after a fire destroyed an overcrowded facility, leaving them homeless for days. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants sleep as they remained camped out on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Fires swept through the overcrowded camp at Moria on two nights last week, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee. Most of them remain without shelter even though emergency tents are available at another island site where a new camp is being built.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants sleep as they remained camped out on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Fires swept through the overcrowded camp at Moria on two nights last week, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee. Most of them remain without shelter even though emergency tents are available at another island site where a new camp is being built.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants carry their belongings as they flee a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. A Greek police operation is underway on the island of Lesbos to move thousands of migrants and refugees left homeless after a fire destroyed their overcrowded camp, into a new facility on the island. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants carry their belongings as they flee a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. A Greek police operation is underway on the island of Lesbos to move thousands of migrants and refugees left homeless after a fire destroyed their overcrowded camp, into a new facility on the island. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants carry their belongings as they flee a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. A Greek police operation is underway on the island of Lesbos to move thousands of migrants and refugees left homeless after a fire destroyed their overcrowded camp, into a new facility on the island. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants carry their belongings as they flee a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. A Greek police operation is underway on the island of Lesbos to move thousands of migrants and refugees left homeless after a fire destroyed their overcrowded camp, into a new facility on the island. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants carry their belongings as they flee a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. A Greek police operation is underway on the island of Lesbos to move thousands of migrants and refugees left homeless after a fire destroyed their overcrowded camp, into a new facility on the island. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants carry their belongings as they flee a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. A Greek police operation is underway on the island of Lesbos to move thousands of migrants and refugees left homeless after a fire destroyed their overcrowded camp, into a new facility on the island. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants sleep outside their tents as they remained camped out on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Fires swept through the overcrowded camp at Moria on two nights last week, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee. Most of them remain without shelter even though emergency tents are available at another island site where a new camp is being built.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants sleep outside their tents as they remained camped out on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Fires swept through the overcrowded camp at Moria on two nights last week, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee. Most of them remain without shelter even though emergency tents are available at another island site where a new camp is being built.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Migrants stand on a rooftop of a building as others remained camped out on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Fires swept through the overcrowded camp at Moria on two nights last week, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee. Most of them remain without shelter even though emergency tents are available at another island site where a new camp is being built.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants stand on a rooftop of a building as others remained camped out on a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Fires swept through the overcrowded camp at Moria on two nights last week, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee. Most of them remain without shelter even though emergency tents are available at another island site where a new camp is being built.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Riot police with buses block the access as their colleagues with special suits to protect against coronavirus, take part in operation to evacuate a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, where migrants remained camped out on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The fires swept through the overcrowded camp at Moria on two nights last week, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee. Most of them remain without shelter even though emergency tents are available at another island site where a new camp is being built.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Riot police with buses block the access as their colleagues with special suits to protect against coronavirus, take part in operation to evacuate a road leading from Moria to the capital of Mytilene, where migrants remained camped out on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The fires swept through the overcrowded camp at Moria on two nights last week, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee. Most of them remain without shelter even though emergency tents are available at another island site where a new camp is being built.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Credit: Petros Giannakouris

Credit: Petros Giannakouris