Fire breaks out in Lavrio refugee camp

A fire broke out in the camp of Kurdish refugees in Lavrio. While the refugees survived the fire with minor injuries, a block of the camp building became unusable.

This afternoon a fire broke out in the camp of Kurdish refugees in Lavrio, Greece.

The fire started in one of the rooms of the camp, which consists of two blocks and hosts about 450 refugees.

Refugees in the block where the fire broke out were evacuated with the help of other refugees. Firefighters who came to the scene also intervened in the fire.

While many people were affected by the smoke, the first response to the injured was done by the health commission members formed by the refugees in the camp.

While the cause of the fire is not clear yet, electrical installation is suspected.

While 3 rooms of the camp were destroyed in the fire, which was controlled by the intervention of firefighters and refugees, the block where the fire took place became unusable.

All the belongings of about 30 refugees were also completely burned in the fire.

The camp administration council, where the refugees were formed, called all democratic institutions and groups to solidarity in order to compensate for the damage.

The history of the camp

This camp is located in Lavrio, a seaside town with a population of 10 thousand, at 60 km away from Athens toward Southeast.

This camp is outside the support scope of Red Cross, UN Migration Organization and the government.

The camp was built 60 years ago for the refugees from the Soviet Union during the cold war era. Afterwards, it became a safe space for refugees who were politically exiled from Turkey after the military coup in 12 September 1980.

During the early 90’s, with the armed conflicts escalating in Kurdish cities in Turkey, the camp became a safe stop for Kurdish families who were forced to leave Turkey. Tens of Kurdish intellectuals, writers, artists, politicians and journalists have found refuge here.

Since 2014, after ISIS began its attacks on Kurdish cities in Syria, the camp has become a temporary homeland for hundreds of Syrian Kurdish families who were trying to go to Western European countries.

The Red Cross continued its sanitary and alimentary support to the camp until 2017. However, it withdrew from the camp during the SYRIZA government because of Turkey’s political pressures against Greece’s government.

Since the early 90’s the camp has been governed through the assemblies determined by the residing refugees. After the withdrawal of Red Cross, the camp has been administrated through the model of self-governance.

Currently, the Lavrio camp is still run largely by Kurdish asylum-seekers from Syria and Turkey, and it operates a system of radical self-government that is influenced by the Kurdish freedom struggle in those countries.