Moria fire a grave signal to stop “hotspot” approach in Europe

Dr Torsten Moritz, general secretary of Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe, expressed his dismay at the fire that has destroyed the Moria camp, leaving 13,000 migrants without a home. He urged Europe to end—once and for all—the “hotspot” approach to sheltering migrants.

“Thirteen-thousand people who were already living in very unacceptable conditions are now completely without any home,” said Moritz. “We are with them in our thoughts and in our prayers, and we really hope nobody has been hurt physically during these events.”

The first reaction, Moritz continued, needs to be that people are housed and given food, and all the necessary items in dignity. “We appeal to the Greek government to support efforts of Greek civil society—including churches—which are already underway, and we appeal to the European Union to help Greece in that,” he said. “We must, however, look at the situation and acknowledge that this was accident and a disaster waiting to happen.”

The conditions of this hotspot—like many other hotspots around Europe and Greece and many other places—have been unbearable, noted Moritz. “Therefore this must be a signal to end the hotspot approach,” he said. “What needs to happen is that people are relocated across Europe, that they are really received and not deterred, and that the hotspot approach does not become the rule in European asylum policy.”

Europe is a strong enough continent to house, receive and give decent asylum procedures to all those arriving, concluded Moritz. “Stop this approach because it will only create more casualties,” he said. “That’s the message of today.”