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Press Release

Fire in Moria claims the life of a woman in the wake of NGOs call to end harmful living conditions in Greece

The IRC is deeply saddened by the death of a woman after a fire broke out in Moria Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) last night.

At least three people, including two children, have lost their lives in Moria in the last month in three separate incidents. The latest comes in the wake of the IRC’s call to urge governments to address the alarming levels of overcrowding and appalling living conditions in reception centres across Greece. These cannot be called accidents anymore; on the contrary, it seems that deaths in reception centres are foretold.

The conditions in the reception centre are worse than ever with almost 13,000 people, according to the official government website, crammed in the space for just 3,000. Services are stretched beyond their limits: limited access to water, food and sanitation facilities, precarious living conditions at the mercy of the weather and inadequate access to health care make living in the camp dangerous. The implications for the living conditions of people living in reception centres have been repeatedly flagged.

The IRC reiterates its call for durable solutions through European solidarity and political will to protect those in need. A system that safeguards human rights and dignity is needed.

Dimitra Kalogeropoulou, Greece Director for the International Rescue Committee said:

‘It seems that we constantly bracing ourselves for a new tragedy. Tents erected one next to the other, many in areas far from toilets, a lack of showers and running water, people cooking in open fires, insufficient number of doctors for 13,000 people, many of whom suffer from serious health and mental health issues. Our psychologists working on the ground on Lesvos and Chios are merely chipping away at an iceberg.

We are calling on Greek and EU leaders to immediately evacuate all vulnerable people, especially unaccompanied and accompanied children from the islands to safe and appropriate accommodation on mainland Greece and other EU member states. We cannot accept the deaths of more people in a place they thought they had finally found safety.’

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.