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Statement of the Minister of Migration and Asylum

Greece as you know, has experienced substantial migrant flows in 2019 and at the beginning of 2020. As a result the camps in the islands became overcrowded. Since the beginning of 2020 we have relocated 25.000 migrants from the islands to the mainland. In Lesbos alone , from the beginning of the year until today, 14.000 migrants were transferred in the Mainland. We have accelerated the asylum procedures and we are issuing now multiple decisions vs the previous years.

However as you know a couple of days ago, asylum seekers residing in Moria have caused a number of fires, and as a result most of the camp in Moria is unable to be used.

Our first priority has been the safety of everyone involved. Stuff, humanitarian organizations, asylum seekers and local residents. This incident comes at a time when the COVID-pandemic has affected both the island and the migrant community.

The second priority was to ensure that the availability of food, water, and medical supplies was not going to be interrupted. And despite the fact that most migrants found temporary shelter on the main street, food, water and medical support were there, to the best of the abilities of the humanitarian organizations.

I would like to thank personally Horst Seehofer, who called me a number of times to ask for any way that Germany could offer support in the current situation. Also a number of other European Partners has offered their support. The vice president of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas, has personally visited the island to express the solidarity of the European Union and of the member states in this situation here in Greece.

Our priority today is to create a safe shelter, initially for families and vulnerable people. We believe that within the day we will start taking people in. The first families have already have settled here. So, food, water, medical supplies and safety are the priority of the day.

We will continue the asylum procedure as normal, and we expect from all our European partners, to contribute to an issue which is not Greek, but is European.

Thank you.

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