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Germany, France to take in minors from destroyed Greek camp

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Germany and France want to take in children who were left without shelter after fires gutted an overcrowded migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos this week, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

“I asked the Greek prime minister how we could help. And his wish was that we take in minors who have been brought to the mainland,” Merkel said during an event to mark the 30th anniversary of German reunification.

“We have established contact with France. Germany and France will take part (in this effort),” she added.

The Moria camp on Lesbos, which hosts more than 12,000 people, was almost totally destroyed and Greek authorities said they were investigating whether Tuesday night’s fires were started deliberately. The Greek government said it would take days to find housing for them.

A handout satellite image made available by MAXAR Technologies shows the remains of burnt-down Moria refugee camp one day after it was devastated by raging fires near Mytilene, Lesbos island, Greece, 10 September 2020. EPA-EFE/MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES / HANDOUT

The destruction at Moria brought to the fore the issue of migration and asylum, which still divides EU members five years after the migrant crisis of 2015 that saw more than 1.1 million migrants seek protection in Germany.

The European Commission is expected to present proposals for a common asylum policy by the end of the month.

Countries like Poland and Hungary are opposed to suggestions that responsibility for taking in new arrivals must be shared among EU states. Greece and Italy say they cannot deal with the new arrivals alone.

“Migration is not the problem of the countries where people are arriving,” Merkel said. “Neither is it a German problem. And it must become more of a European responsibility.”

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