CNA Staff, Sep 10, 2020 / 04:10 am
A cardinal said Wednesday that Europe should be “ashamed” after fire devastated the continent’s largest refugee camp, leaving 13,000 people without shelter.
In a Sept. 9 interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), lamented the destruction of the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.
He said: “I think it’s a shame for Europe because it’s not only the camp Moria that’s on fire, but it’s the identity of Europe which is on fire. People came to Europe for help in their distress and we left them on a small Greek island. Many words, but no deeds. Europe should be ashamed because this is the result of the despair in the heart of people.”
Fire broke out at the camp, which was built to house 3,000 people, on the evening of Sept. 8. The blaze spread quickly due to high winds and by the following morning most of the camp was a smoking ruin.
Hollerich recalled a visit he made to the camp in May 2019, with the papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.
“We could speak with people. We felt this deep, deep despair in the heart of the people. Darkness has come into the heart of this people. And I think the fire is a consequence of this attitude. But that attitude is due to our inaction,” he said.
The cause of the fire is currently unclear. Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said that the blaze “began with the asylum seekers” after quarantine was imposed following an outbreak of COVID-19. But he did not say that the fires were the result of arson.
The camp was opened in 2015 when hundreds of thousands of people arrived in Greece from Turkey, which is separated from Lesbos by a narrow strait. The camp’s population rose to more than 20,000 after European Union countries took measures to stop the influx of refugees.