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How did Moria originate? Four questions about the Greek refugee camp

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Since the large-scale fires in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday in the Moria refugee camp, our response platform NUjij has received many questions about the camp. Press lists the four most important questions and answers.

What is Moria and how did it originate?

Moria is a former military base and is located on the Greek island of Lesbos. It is the largest refugee camp in Europe, according to the refugee organization of the United Nations.

The refugee camp was created when thousands of people fled the civil war in Syria and the conflict in Afghanistan between the Taliban and the Americans in 2013. Refugees crossed from North Africa and Turkey to Europe and many of them ended up on the Greek islands.

Moria was designated as a so-called hotspot, where refugees can start an asylum seekers procedure before they are allowed to travel on to the European mainland. Other hotspots can be found on Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos.

The camp has capacity for three thousand inhabitants, but at the end of August there were at least thirteen thousand refugees in the camp. Due to the overcrowding, the situation at the camp became so dire that in 2018 it was named the ‘worst refugee camp on earth’ by Doctors without Borders.

In 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis, most of the refugees in the Greek camps came from Syria. Today, most refugees on Lesvos come from Afghanistan (76 percent), Syria (7 percent) and Congo (7 percent), according to the latter Numbers of the UN.

Children, with and without parents, are most common in the camp (39 percent), followed by adult men (38 percent) and adult women (23 percent).

Refugees from Syria are already largely received in the region. There are 750,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan and neighboring Lebanon has already received 1.5 million Syrians. However, most Syrian refugees (3.6 million) are taken in by Turkey.

This is partly due to the deal that the European Union concluded with Turkey in 2016. In exchange for financial support, Turkey receives the refugees and prevents them from going to Europe. Only a small proportion of all Syrian refugees decide to cross over to Greece.

Most of the refugees on Moria, however, are not Syrian but come from Afghanistan, where there has been fighting between the Taliban and the government for years. Worldwide there are 2.5 million Afghans on the run.

Most Afghan refugees move to neighboring countries Iran and Pakistan, but they are increasingly being sent back to countries of origin, said Amnesty International. In 2016, Pakistan forcibly relocated about 365,000 refugees back to Afghanistan and in 2017 462,000 Afghan refugees returned from Iran.

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