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Fire in the Samos hotspot: foretold tragedy, collapsing situation

No death in the terrible fire raged yesterday evening, October 14 around 10 pm, at the reception center on the island of Samos, Greece, a fire which forced evacuation of about 6 thousand refugees. Flames were subdued during the night by firefighters.

The causes of the fire are still unknown, but it is supposed that the fire was intentional and result of the degeneration of a fight started in the afternoon of the same day between a group of Afghans and a group of Syrians in the city of Vathy, according to Greek press sources such as Samos24 and Kathimerini. Eight people would have been taken to Samos hospital yesterday evening, while two people – one an unaccompanied minor – would have been seriously injured with bladed weapons, but not life-threatening. The number of people intoxicated or injured is still unknown. East Samos mayor, George Stantzos, gave orders for all schools to close for today to face the critical situation.

«It is a miracle that no one died tonight. With the flames, gas cylinders in the camp started to explode, causing a horrifying fire», said Giulia Cicoli, Project Coordinator of Still I Rise. «All NGOs on the island provided immediate assistance: in our center, Mazì we offered shelter for the night to 260 people, students and their families, providing sleeping bags and distributing food for dinner and for breakfast. All our students are fine and they were incredible in managing the emergency. We are grateful to the firefighters who extinguished the fire in an impossible situation, thus avoiding a catastrophe».

Hundreds of people lost even the little they had and NGOs are still trying to provide to all their basic needs. According to what has been reported by some unaccompanied minors, but has not been confirmed yet, the gate of Level 2 – the area in the hotspot in which they live and should be kept safe as minors – was closed during the fire: to escape the flames they had to get out through a makeshift passage.

This is a sadly foretold tragedy. Still I Rise NGO has been strongly denouncing an unacceptable situation close to a major collapse, by means of a lawsuit filed in with the Public Prosecutor in Samos and in Rome, to condemn abuses and violation committed by the authorities managing the camp against unaccompanied minors. The lawsuit made it to the European Parliament with two Parliamentary Questions, but nothing changed and the situation in Samos is collapsing.

«Tonight Samos became the hell we have always feared. It’s happening now. In spite of all reports and calls, authorities did not take any action, and in the end it happened. It’s total chaos. We told them. They did not listen. Now it’s purgatory on Earth», says Nicolò Govoni, President of Still I Rise.
«What is happening is unacceptable, there are more than six thousand people in the camp and tension skyrocketing, people are at the end of their tether», continues Giulia Cicoli.

«These people must be transferred as soon as possible, it is not possible to endure this situation and in 2019, in Europe, such a situation is not tolerable».

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