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Three Migrants Die After Fire in Thessaloniki Building

Three migrants die in Thessaloniki
The migrant victims are believed to be Algerian. File photo. Credit:

Three migrants died following a fire in an abandoned building in the center of the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece’s fire department said on Wednesday.

The three men, believed to have been from Algeria, had been living on the third floor of the abandoned building.

Firefighters said the three appeared to have died of smoke inhalation. A fourth man, who told authorities he was from Morocco, survived the blaze.

Firefighters said it was not immediately clear what caused the fire.

In February, a seven-year-old boy died after a fire broke out at a migrant camp in Thebes, northwest of Athens.

Thousands of migrants and refugees make their way to Greece each year from nearby Turkey.

Some apply for asylum in Greece, and others try to make their way further north to other European Union countries using smugglers.

Most are living in migrant camp dotted throughout mainland Greece and the islands, but many end up sleeping outdoors or squatting in abandoned buildings.

Migrant camp to be shut down

Recently, Μigration Minister Notis Mitarakis announced that one of newly-created migrant camps in the island of Lesvos will shut down within the next few weeks.

Kara Tepe provided temporary accommodation for thousands of migrants and asylum seekers after the notorious Moria camp was torched last year.

Mitarakis said that the Kara Tepe camp, which had been erected on public land, will shut down and be turned over to the island’s residents “within the next few weeks.”

Its facilities will be moved to a new area of nearly 24 hectares (59 acres) near the city of Mytilini, the capital of the island.

The new center’s capacity will be 3,000 individuals and it is expected to be completed by November of 2021.

The Minister said in a letter to Mytilini mayor Stratis Kitelis that all migrants currently staying at Kara Tepe have been interviewed.

A decision on whether they have been granted asylum or not has been made and is pending delivery, he said.

He also added that other facilities hosting migrants, such as the Estia apartments, will no longer do so after the new enclosed control facility is built.

Referring to the decongestion of the island, which bore the brunt of the crush of the migrant influx to Greece, Mitarakis said that 6,000 refugees were transferred out of Lesvos.

The number of asylum seekers between January 2020 and January 2021 also dropped by 58 percent, from a high of 20,868 down to 8,764.

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