Moria migrants: Greek camp fire sparks race to find shelter for 13,000
Europe migrant crisis
Greece is in a race to find shelter for thousands of migrants..
Greece is in a race to find shelter for thousands of migrants forced to flee an overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos that has been destroyed by fire.
The blaze ripped through the Moria camp late Tuesday, with another fire wiping out any remaining tents on Wednesday.
Greek officials said many of the 13,000 migrants who lived in the camp would be temporarily placed on ships at a nearby port or in tents flown in from Athens.
About 400 teenagers and children have been transferred to the mainland.
But Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told the BBC that about 2,000 people might not have access to a shelter and authorities were working to provide emergency accommodation near the Moria camp site.
"Hopefully by midnight or in the early hours of the morning, most people will have a replacement tent offered," he said, adding that "vulnerable people and families" were being taken to the port city of Mytilene, where they could sleep on specially provided ships.
He added that their had been "no casualties, no loss of life" and that some people were returning to "safe areas" near the Moria camp, which was only designed to hold 3,000 people.
What happened at Moria?
Fires broke out in more than three places in a short space of time, local fire chief Konstantinos Theofilopoulos told state television channel ERT. Some protesting migrants hindered firefighters who tried to tackle the flames, he said.
The main blaze, which was initially fanned by high winds, was put out by Wednesday morning. Some 20 firefighters, 10 fire engines and a helicopter were sent to the scene.
The incident occurred just hours after reports that 35 people had tested positive for Covid-19 at the Moria camp. Authorities placed the facility under quarantine last week after a Somali migrant was confirmed to have contracted coronavirus.
Mr Mitarachi said the fires "began with the asylum seekers because of the quarantine imposed". Some of those infected with the virus had reportedly refused to move into isolation with their families.
Mr Mitarachi did not say, however, that the fires were a deliberate act of arson aimed at destroying the camp.
But some migrants told BBC Persian that the fire had broken out after scuffles between migrants and Greek forces at the camp.
Several blamed "far-right Greeks" for the blaze after the announcement of coronavirus cases, and took photos of what they said were canisters used to ignite the flames.
Many migrants then attempted to carry their belongings to the port town of Mytilene, but police had blocked roads. Others were reportedly attacked by locals as they tried to pass through a nearby village.
The mayor of Mytilene, Stratis Kytelis, said it was "a very difficult situation because some of those who are outside will include people who are positive [for coronavirus]".
Reports suggest many slept in fields after the fire.
What has the reaction been?
A state of emergency has been declared and several ministers have been sent to Lesbos to assess the situation.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said "the situation in Moria cannot go on, because it is simultaneously a public health and national security issue".
The EU has offered to help with the response.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the main priority was "the safety of those left without shelter".
German foreign minister Heiko Maas described the blaze as a "humanitarian disaster" and tweeted about "the distribution of refugees among those willing to accept admission in the EU".
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Pakistan floods: Desperation and displacement in Sindh province
The Prime Minister of Pakistan has said the “magnitude of the calamity” is bigger than expected, after visiting flood-hit areas.
Shehbaz Sharif was speaking from Sindh province – which has had nearly eight times its average August rainfall.
The floods have killed nearly 1,000 people across Pakistan since June, while thousands have been displaced – and millions more affected.
As the BBC drove through Sindh, there were displaced people in every village.
The full scale of the devastation in the province is yet to be fully understood – but the people described it as the worst disaster they’ve survived.
Floods are not uncommon in Pakistan, but people here said these rains were different – more than anything that’s ever been seen. One local official called them “floods of biblical proportions”.
Near the city of Larkana, thousands of mud homes have sunk under water. For miles all that’s visible is treetops. Where the water level is slightly lower, thatched roofs creep out from underneath the water.
In one village, the people are desperate for food. In another, many children have developed waterborne diseases.
When a mobile truck pulled over, scores of people immediately ran towards it. Children carrying other children made their way to the long queue.
One 12-year-old girl said she and her baby sister had not eaten for a day.
“No food has come here, but my sister is sick, she has been vomiting,” the girl said. “I hope they can help.”
The desperation was evident in every community. People ran towards car windows to ask for help – anything.
On one of the main streets out of the city of Sukkur, hundreds of people have settled.
Many of them walked from remote villages, and were told that help is easier to get in the urban areas. But there’s not much difference here.
On Friday, PM Sharif said 33 million people had been hit by the floods – about 15% of the country’s population.
He said the losses caused by floods this season were comparable to those during the floods of 2010-11, said to be the worst on record. The country has appealed for more international aid.
In Sindh, it’s not that local authorities are not trying, but they admit that they are out of their depth.
The provincial government says this is a “climate change catastrophe” and that the people of Pakistan, especially in the poorer communities, have been the worst affected.
The solutions will not be quick – acres of land are waterlogged and the water is not receding fast enough for any rebuilding to take place here.
There’s not much to do for the people but to wait – wait for the rains to stop, wait for the water to go down, wait for more resources to be allocated to these kinds of communities.
In the meantime, life continues to be difficult.
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-62699886
Burkina Faso military says it has seized power
The military in Burkina Faso says it has seized power and overthrown President Roch Kaboré.
The announcement was made on state television by an army officer, who cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover.
Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency.
His whereabouts are unclear, but the officer said that all those detained were in a secure location.
The coup comes a day after troops seized barracks, and gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Earlier, the ruling People’s Movement for Progress (PMP) party said that both Mr Kaboré and a government minister had survived an assassination attempt.
On Sunday, mutinying troops demanded the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda.
The army statement said Mr Kaboré had failed to unite the nation and to deal effectively with the security crisis which “threatens the very foundations of our nation”.
The statement was issued in the name of a group not heard of previously, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, its French acronym.
Although read out by another officer, the statement was signed by Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who is believed to be the coup leader and a senior commander with years of experience fighting the Islamist militants.
The statement said that parliament and the government had been dissolved, and the constitution suspended, but promised a “return to constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.
The military also announced the closure of Burkina Faso’s borders.
UN chief António Guterres condemned the coup and called on the military to “ensure the protection and the physical integrity” of Mr Kaboré.
The African Union and regional bloc, Ecowas, have also condemned the forceful takeover of power, with Ecowas saying it holds the soldiers responsible for the deposed president’s well-being.
Earlier, the news of his detention was received with cheers and celebrations in Ouagadougou, reports the BBC’s senior Africa correspondent Anne Soy.
Earlier video footage from the capital appeared to show armoured vehicles – reportedly used by the presidency – peppered with bullet holes and abandoned in the street.
Mobile internet services have been disrupted, though fixed-line internet and domestic wi-fi are working.
Mr Kaboré has not been seen in public since the crisis began, but two posts appeared on his Twitter account before the officer announced he had been toppled.
The later one called on those who had taken up arms to lay them down “in the higher interest of the nation”. Earlier, Mr Kaboré congratulated the national football team on their win in an Africa Cup of Nations match.
It is unclear who posted the tweets.
Some security sources say the president and other government ministers are being held at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks in the capital.
On Sunday, hundreds of people came out in support of the soldiers and some of them set fire to the ruling party’s headquarters.
The coup comes a week after 11 soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mr Kaboré.
But discontent has been growing in Burkina Faso over the government’s failure to defeat an Islamist insurgency in the country since 2015.
That escalated in November, when 53 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed by suspected jihadists. And on Saturday, a banned rally to protest against the government’s perceived failure led to dozens of arrests.
Mutinying soldiers made several demands, including: the removal of the army’s chief of staff and the head of the intelligence service; more troops to be deployed to the front line; and better conditions for the wounded and soldiers’ families.
Similar troubles in neighbouring Mali led to a military coup in May 2021 – one that was broadly welcomed by the public.
Burkina Faso is now the third West African country to witness a military takeover in recent years. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.
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