Merkel offers to help Moria camp refugees


German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier dismissed calls from some local and regional politicians for more of the displaced people to be taken to Germany, saying relief efforts had to be part of a wider package of measures.

“There’s no sense in just talking about numbers,” she said, adding that Germany could help by supporting a new European migrant reception centre on Lesbos, echoing a proposal by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“I think that would be an important step to a stronger European approach to immigration policy,” she said.

However, the Bild newspaper and N-TV broadcaster both reported the country would take in hundreds of refugees as a one-off gesture.

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A general view of the new temporary camp for refugees and migrants near Mytilene, on Lesbos.Credit:AP

A broad European solution has proved elusive for years, despite repeated appeals by countries such as Greece and Italy, where most of the migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean arrive, but the European Commission is due to present a new migration pact on September 23.

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On Lesbos, transfers into the new tent encampments were being held up by fears of a spread of COVID-19, with at least 21 people testing positive for the disease, as well as by fears among many that the new camp would be no better than the squalid conditions they endured in Moria.

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Authorities have already moved some 400 minors from Lesbos to the Greek mainland since the blaze for possible resettlement in other European countries, but have refused to allow the majority to leave the island.

Some 800 people had been moved into tent accommodation by Monday evening, officials said.

“We expect that in the next three to four days all [the migrants on Lesbos] will be housed,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters.

Reuters

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