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Greek government transfers more than 5,000 migrants into new ‘tent city’ in under 24 hours

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It took less than 24 hours for the Greek government to transfer over 5,000 migrants to the new tent city in Kara Tepe.

A police operation took place on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Thursday morning to relocate up to 10,000 homeless refugees.

Thousands of migrants were left on the streets of Lesvos after the Moria migrant camp was destroyed by a fire, an operation orchestrated by migrant residents. Formerly the largest migrant camp in Greece, it was believed that up to 15,000 were housed at the facility before it was burned down.

Seventy female officers who were flown in from Athens on Wednesday were tasked to evacuate women and children to the new tent city in Kara Tepe. The Greek government states that the new temporary facility can house 5,000 people.

Greek Police (ELAS) said in a press release this is an operation “to protect public health with a clear humanitarian element.”

Speaking on the island, migration minister Notis Mitarachi said rapid coronavirus tests found 135 of the former residents of Moria positive for the coronavirus, and these people were being kept “in special areas where they receive the appropriate medical conditions.”

Migrants wait to enter a new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe, near Mytilene the capital of the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.  (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

“It is critical that Europe demonstrates tangible solidarity to the pressure that the Greek islands have had over the last few years,” said Mitarachi, the migration minister.

The ELAS are still evacuating roads leading from Moria to the main town of Mytilene, where they are being refused entry into the city.

“As long as it is peaceful, we believe it is a good move,” said Astrid Castelein, head of the U.N. Refugee Agency’s office on Lesbos. “Here on the street it is a risk for security, for public health, and it’s not dignity which we need for everyone.”

Government spokesperson Stelios Petsas says all migrants undergo a rapid coronavirus test in 17 mobile units of EODY and are then registered in the camp.

“We continue implementing the three aims we had set from the beginning: shelter, food [and] protection,” Petsas said.

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