(Source: CD/Vatican News)

Approximately 13,000 migrants fled the overcrowded Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos as giant fires ripped through it on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday. 

The cause of the fires is still unclear. Greek authorities, emergency responders and humanitarian organisations are racing to provide emergency accommodation and aid to the homeless asylum seekers.

Appeal from religious organizations

Centro Astalli, the Italian headquarters of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) involved with accompanying, serving and defending the rights of refugees and displaced persons, expressed concern about the fire in Moria.

“For some time, migrants and humanitarian organisations have been calling for the evacuation of the camp, denouncing the serious state of degradation and abandonment”, denounced Fr. Camillo Ripamonti, president of Centro Astalli, in a press release.

“It is time for the European Union to show solidarity” and “take action for the immediate evacuation of migrants from Lesbos”, Fr. Ripamonti urged.

He proposed that this be done via a “controlled distribution of migrants among member states” instead of grouping thousands of people camped in one place.

Doors need to open

In the same vein, the Sant’Egidio Community has also appealed to EU member states to open their doors to the migrants who have lost everything and have been living in precarious conditions after making risky journeys from their countries – many from Afghanistan.

“Europe, if it still lives up to its tradition of civilization and humanity, must take responsibility through an act of collective responsibility”, the Community said in a statement on its website on Wednesday.

The lay movement, which has been actively involved in supporting refugees, pointed out that the approximately 13,000 migrants housed at the Moria camp are mostly composed of families. Forty percent are minors, who “thirst for dignity and future”.

To respond to the unfortunate humanitarian emergency of these hours, the community called for the urgent transfer of the evacuees to well-equipped camps on the mainland to “avoid further dramas of despair”.

It also appealed for access to be granted to associations present on the island to bring immediate aid to the refugees.

More on Novena on the refugee tragedy on Lesbos and others around Europe:

Pope warns “no one can remain indifferent” to migrant “tragedies” day after tragic fire in Lesbos refugee camp

Cardinals, archbishop: “Europe should be ashamed” after devastating fire in Lesbos migrant camp


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.