Greek police move homeless migrants to new Lesbos camp

A view of a new temporary camp for refugees and migrants, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, September 17, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 September 2020

Greek police move homeless migrants to new Lesbos camp

  • Officers woke the migrants in their tents and sleeping bags on the roadsides to take them to the temporary center that was hastily set up
  • Over 12,000 people were left homeless when fire broke out on the night of September 8 in the overcrowded and unsanitary Moria camp

LESBOS ISLAND, Greece: Police on the Greek island of Lesbos on Thursday launched an operation to rehouse thousands of asylum seekers sleeping rough for over a week after Europe’s largest migrant camp was destroyed by fire.
Officers woke the migrants in their tents and sleeping bags on the roadsides to take them to the temporary center that was hastily set up after Europe’s largest camp for asylum seekers at Moria burned down last week.
Quietly, with only the sounds of children crying, and under a hot sun the migrants folded their blankets, picked up bags containing whatever belongings they had saved from the fire and dismantled their tents.
Women and children with bundles on their backs were seen gathering by a barricade police had set up on the road.
“It’s awful, there’s nothing in it, not enough food, toilets, no shower, there’s not even a bed,” Mustafa, a Sudanese asylum seeker, told AFP, after arriving at the temporary camp a few kilometers from the burnt out Moria camp.
A migration ministry source said some 2,800 people were inside the new camp.
“The aim is to safeguard public health,” police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos told AFP in Athens, confirming that “an operation is underway” which “responds to humanitarian aims.”
He said around 70 women police officers took part in the operation. Videos posted by police showed women officers in white uniforms talking to migrant families.
Eight organizations providing legal assistance to migrants on Thursday noted that although asylum processes had begun anew, lawyers had not been given access to the new camp.
“Neither asylum seekers nor legal support organizations have until now received any information from Greek authorities about this facility,” the organizations said in a statement, noting that claimants were being called to interviews via teleconference without legal representation.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which opened an emergency clinic in the area, said they were initially barred from accessing the facility during the night. They were later allowed to reopen.
Over 12,000 people including entire families with elderly and newborns were left homeless when fire broke out on the night of September 8 in the overcrowded and unsanitary Moria camp — which came to prominence five years ago at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis.
Six young Afghans have been arrested in connection with the incident, with four of them brought before a Lesbos magistrate on Wednesday.
Thousands of the migrants have been sleeping under tarpaulins or tents at roadsides and in the car parks of closed supermarkets since the blaze.
Late Wednesday, around 1,000 tents, each able to accomodate between eight and 10 people, had been erected at the new site near Moria.
Medical tents were to be set up, and two quarantine zones were planned for the several dozen people who have tested positive for coronavirus.
But many migrants have refused to enter the new camp, fearing they would be left waiting for months to have their requests for asylum processed so that they can be transferred to the Greek mainland or to another European country.
The UN refugee agency on Wednesday urged Greece to speed up asylum processes on Lesbos.
“The idea is not that people remain for ever on the island of Lesbos, but that processes are accelerated so that people can leave gradually and in an orderly way” to the capital Athens or elsewhere on the mainland, the UN agency’s chief in Greece Philippe Leclerc told reporters.
Greece’s police minister Michalis Chrysochoidis this week said that “half” the migrants on Lesbos should be able to leave “by Christmas” and “the rest by Easter.”
Local communities on Thursday filed a legal complaint against the new camp, arguing that it was likely built without the proper environmental and archaeological permits.


Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

Updated 22 October 2020

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

  • Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ma’arid Street renamed President Joko Widodo Street

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said it was “an honor” for him and his country that a street in the UAE capital had been named after him.

Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, was on Monday renamed President Joko Widodo Street during a ceremony that coincided with the first anniversary of the Indonesian leader’s inauguration for a second term in office.

Writing on social media, Widodo said: “It is a recognition and an honor, not only for me, but for Indonesia.” He also expressed hope that the two countries’ relations would be “stronger, mutually strengthening, and beneficial for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE, Husin Bagis, told Arab News: “The initiative to rename the street after President Joko Widodo came from His Highness (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), who also presided over the street renaming ceremony on the spot.”

The envoy said that the street was near to the future location of the Indonesian Embassy compound, which was currently under construction.

According to UAE news agency WAM, the crown prince has also directed officials to build a mosque named after Widodo, in Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic Area, in recognition of the Indonesian president’s close friendship with the UAE and his efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Indonesia-UAE relations have grown closer since Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, during which he secured investment projects worth $22.9 billion in what has officially been described as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history. The visit was to reciprocate the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.

Recent cooperation agreements between the two countries have included plans for the construction of a mosque on a plot of land in Widodo’s hometown of Solo in Central Java.

The mosque will be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated to take place in December.

Widodo is the latest Indonesian leader to be celebrated through an honorific street name in a foreign country. In Rabat, Morocco’s capital, Avenue Sukarno was named after Indonesia’s first president, while Mohammed Hatta Street in Haarlem, the Netherlands, recognizes the Southeast Asian country’s first vice president. Sukarno and Hatta are considered the fathers of Indonesia’s independence.

The name of the country’s third president, B. J. Habibie, appears on a bridge in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in honor of his decision to hold a referendum there which allowed East Timor to secede from Indonesia.