A large portion of the infamous Moria "hotspot" on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos was burned to the ground in the early morning hours of Wednesday, with thousands of would-be asylum seekers and irregular migrants hosted there left without shelter.
According to reports by Lesvos media outlets quoting local residents, third country nationals were spotted setting numerous fires around the camp's perimeter, with strong winds later spreading the flames into the temporary settlement and the adjoining rural areas. Moreover, other media reports from the site claimed that young men from the camp threw rocks at fire engines and firefighters who rushed to the scene.
Migrants, NGOs active at the site and some EU officials have repeatedly pressured the Greek government to evacuate the would-be asylum seekers, and even the illegal migrants to the mainland, allowing them to live in either open and EU-funded shelters or where they please.
Hundreds of thousands of people hailing from Sub-Saharan Africa to Myanmar have flocked to western Turkey since 2015 in a bid to cross into Greece, with many facilitated by migrant smuggling rings operating in Turkey, and then on to preferred destinations in central and western Europe.
A newly elected leftist government under Alexis Tsipras essentially opened up Greece's sea borders in the eastern Aegean in 2015, mainly to allow refugees from the war-torn Middle East, and especially Syria, to first transit Greece on their way to other European countries, primarily Germany. Roughly one million people entered and left Greece in an irregular manner in 2015, before the flow was stopped and Turkey pressured into also preventing the mass arrivals emanating from its shores in exchange for billions of euros in aid from the Union.
The simmering migration crisis for the current center-right Mitsotakis government is now multi-faceted, with 35 people having tested positive for Covid-19 at the camp, and amid the Erdogan administration's now unabashed war-mongering and threats against Greece.
Later reports, in fact, point to an attempt by public health officials to isolate those tested positive for the coronavirus as causing unrest and the subsequent fires.
A previous attempt by Turkish authorities to open Greece's land border with Turkey at the Evros (Maritsa) River last February for illegal migrants failed, after Athens mobilized police and military forces to seal the frontier.