Produced by Joe Sinclair; footage from Reuters and Getty
You can enable subtitles (captions) in the video player
The fire that ripped through a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos earlier this month left thousands of migrants destitute. The Moria Camp was Europe's largest, a squalid and miserable home to some 13,000 migrants including 4,000 children. The fire forced them to sleep on the streets. Some say Moria is a fitting indictment of Europe's dysfunctional refugee policy.
The Lesbos camp is a legacy of the migrant crisis of 2015-16, when 2m people poured into Europe, many of them via Turkey into Greece. Just a few miles off the Turkish coast, Lesbos was a landing point for many, but when countries like Hungary sealed their borders, routes to northern Europe were cut off. A deal between the EU and Turkey in 2016 drastically reduced the flow.
Those who continued to cross the Aegean to Lesbos became stuck. Greek officials struggled to cope with the number of asylum claims. Many took several months, sometimes longer, to process. Deportations to Turkey were a central element of the EU refugee deal, but there have been few deportations, and in some instances the courts have deemed Turkey to be an unsafe country.
The EU, meanwhile, has taken in far fewer certified refugees from Turkey than it promised. As more and more people crowded into the Moria Camp conditions deteriorated. Sanitation was poor and it became unsafe for women. Originally welcoming, many islanders turned against the camp and its residents. With the spread of Covid-19, the Moria Camp has been in lockdown since March. Greece's centre-right government says its migration policy is tough, but fair.
Since coming to power last year it has transferred thousands of asylum seekers from Lesbos to the mainland. It has stepped up deportations and tightened its maritime patrols. But some analysts and campaigners believe the desperate conditions in Moria were intended to deter other asylum seekers from trying to come to Greece.
EU rules require asylum seekers to lodge their claims in the country where they first arrive in the EU. That places a huge burden on the block's southern states, particularly Greece, Italy, and Spain. Efforts to share out migrant numbers between EU states have collapsed amid fierce resistance from some eastern governments. The European Commission is due to come up with a new policy proposal within weeks, but few expect the deadlock to be broken.
The Greek authorities are now scrambling to rebuild shelters, but a growing number of islanders want the camp closed down for good, and the migrants? They don't want to be there either.