I am deeply shocked by the blaze that devastated the Moria refugee camp. I am relieved that no causalities happened, but the fire put at risk the lives of thousands of people: refugees, migrants and staff.
I pay tribute to the local authorities in Lesvos, including the fire department and emergency services that helped to contain the fire and assisted the injured.
While the immediate priority is now to provide a decent shelter to those left without one, I once more call on the European Commission to put forward a new pact on migration and asylum, as well as working together with EU governments, social partners and civil society at large, based on the spirit of the European Partnership on integration whose principles were reaffirmed only few days ago.
In order to give an answer to Lesvos and other refugee camps' critical situation, European governments urgently need to establish a genuine common asylum procedure that is reliable, flexible and efficient, while ensuring various legal pathways for people in need, for example resettlement programmes and humanitarian visas.
The EU should also create additional ways for legal migration to the EU for other types of migrants, which will contribute significantly to decreasing irregular migration.
Moria has the capacity to house some 3,000 people, but was sheltering people more than four times its capacity leaving refugees and migrants in abysmal conditions. Other refugee camps struggle with similar challenges. This summer, a steady increase of migrant mass arrivals was registered in the Italian island of Lampedusa, which houses around 1,160 migrants, six times the amount of its maximum capacity.
What happened in Moria was as inevitable as it is devastating. The situation of refugee camps in Europe is not sustainable neither acceptable. It is against our fundamental values and humanitarian principles. The coronavirus pandemic makes it even more urgent to take proper action on migration at European level.
I expect real solidarity to be built among Member States on the ashes of the Moria refugee camp and to finally provide with a radical shift on EU inaction on the matter.