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Congress Rapporteur calls for solidarity with local authorities after Moria fires

On 28 September 2020, Against the background of the devastating fires in the “Moria Reception and Identification Centre” on the Greek island of Lesbos, Yoomi Renström (Sweden, SOC/G/PD), Rapporteur of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe deplored the lack of joint action in Europe, saying: “The current response of authorities across Europe is far from sufficient and it is nothing to be proud of. This situation is yet another worrying example of what happens when there is a lack of cooperation and solidarity. Thousands of migrants continue to be in grave danger, including many unaccompanied minors.” In its report adopted in 2017, the Congress already warned about the overcrowding, underfunding and understaffing of refugee camps in Greece and called for European solidarity with the Greek national and the local authorities. “We need to lend our support to local elected representatives in Greece, who are carrying the heavy burden of dealing with this issue on a daily basis. We once again underline the need for coordinated action across Europe and for solidarity with local and regional authorities”, the Rapporteur added. Discussing the issue during its recent meeting at the initiative of Mette Gundersen (Norway, NI-NR), the Current Affairs Committee of the Congress emphasised the responsibility of the Greek government to lighten the burden on those communities that for years have had to shoulder the brunt of responsibility, by facilitating the transfer of migrants to the Greek mainland. Noting that, already in 2017, the President of the Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDE) had rung the alarm bell about the challenges that local authorities on the Greek islands face and the need to ensure integration and social cohesion, Yoomi Renström stressed the key role that local and regional authorities play in the management of migration and integration. “The provision of shelter, food, water, sanitation and medical care to those who lived in the Moria camp is now of utmost importance and the local authorities need support”, she underlined.