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Sept. 20, 2020

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Greece wants the EU to help run its island migrant camps

New camps needed after fires gutted refugee camps

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European Council President Charles Michel, center, accompanied by Greek officials, looks at the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe during his visit on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.
European Council President Charles Michel, center, accompanied by Greek officials, looks at the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe during his visit on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (Dimitris Tosidis/Pool via AP) Photo Gallery

KARA TEPE, Greece — The Greek government on Tuesday urged the European Union to jointly run new refugee camps on Greece’s eastern islands as part of an overhaul of the EU’s migration policies.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the proposal at an Athens meeting with European Council President Charles Michel as Greece works to house thousands of asylum-seekers left homeless after fires gutted the squalid, overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos.

The government says the fires were set deliberately by migrants protesting a coronavirus lockdown, and authorities on Tuesday announced the arrests of six suspects in the case.

The suspects, all from Afghanistan, include two 17-year-olds who were transferred to mainland refugee camps after the fires. They were being questioned by police, who identified them using videos posted on social media and witness accounts.

Some 12,500 people fled last week’s fires at the Moria camp. Most are still homeless and many are refusing to leave a road where they have camped out for almost a week, fearing they could be detained for months at a new camp the Greek army is building.

“We have already started the new facility, and that is where the flags of Greece and the European Union must fly,” the Greek prime minister said. “There must be shared responsibility not only for construction, but also for the operation of the camp.”

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