If the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos was a tinderbox, the virus was the spark.
When the authorities tried to quarantine the residents, a small group of asylum seekers, angry that their living situations were somehow about to get even worse, began setting blazes, officials and aid workers say.
Now, with the camp destroyed, some 8,000 adults and 4,000 children, among them hundreds of infants, are stranded without shelter or sanitation.
“We escaped from fire, but everything is black,” said Mujtaba Saber, sitting on a thin blanket spread on a street, next to his napping 3-year-old son. His 20-day-old baby slept nearby in her mother’s arms.
The Times’s Matina Stevis-Gridneff, who is on Lesbos, reports that the Greek army has been setting up a new camp. The authorities said they hoped to relocate the migrants, nearly two-thirds of whom are Afghans, into 2,000 tents.
For now, they’ve been sleeping on tombstones and the side of the road, in parking lots and dried weeds on the hillsides. Some have pitched makeshift tents with bamboo poles and blankets. They’ve used the few clothes they have to make mattresses so their babies don’t sleep on tarmac.
“I think sleeping on the street is bad, but Moria is bad-bad,” said Mahbube Ahzani, 15, who had been in the camp with her family for 10 months. But what will be worse, she said, is the “new Moria.”