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Arson triggers second migrant surge

Even though they set fire to their camp once their asylum requests were rejected, Western countries began lining up to take them in voluntarily. Germany continues to be the champion of migration, but Germans fear that their country's inclusive policies will lead to another influx of migrants. Meanwhile, NGOs have resumed their migrant taxi services near Italy's coasts and Italians are talking about another invasion.

Most Germans fear that the repeated admission of a large number of refugees from Greece may lead to a new surge in migration. A survey conducted by Germany's ZDF television found that 62 per cent of respondents think that the government's decision to take in migrants from the burnt-out Moria camp could further encourage migrants preparing for Europe, triggering another migration crisis in the midst of the pandemic.

The survey was run shortly after Germany announced that it would receive 1,500 migrants from the Moria camp destroyed by fire. Germany, however, appears to have ignored news reports on the cause of the fire before making such a generous promise. Evidence shows that the Moria camp, which housed 13 thousand migrants, fell victim to arson caused by migrants living in the camp. Police have arrested six migrants linked to the fire and two of the suspects are minors from Afghanistan. CCTV footage has also revealed the exact circumstances of the fire, entirely ruling out the possibility of an accident. Following the arrest of the arsonists, Minister for Citizen Protection Michalis Chrysochoidis stressed that "Lesbos does not want to hear any more slogans. It wants serious actions and robust administration" concerning the admission of migrants.

A holding camp on Samos was also set ablaze shortly after the incident. Police arrested 13 suspects but refused to disclose their nationality. As there's evidence that the Moria camp was set ablaze by migrants with rejected asylum requests, Greek police - perhaps understandably - have deployed more officers to investigate the second fire.

Italian authorities are also preparing for an invasion after NGOs providing sea transport for migrants had resumed their activities in the Mediterranean. During the pandemic, which activists have described as a "forced break", their so-called rescue operations have waned, but they recently relaunched their "naval taxi services", because the government does nothing against it, according to il Giornale. Following the lockdown, a ship called Mare Jonio landed 27 migrants, while Open Arms shipped 276 passengers ashore. Astral, Alan Kurdi, Sea Watch 4 and Louise Michel are also preparing to reach the shores with their human cargo, although they have yet to set sail pending mandatory inspections by the authorities.

The Italian government's pro-migration policy - driven by a belief that migrants will be redistributed among EU member states - is putting constant pressure on the cuntry. However, on 29 September last year member states decided to reject the Malta Convention - which would have enabled such redistributions - and new talks have not since featured on the agenda.

The pressure, however, does not seem to abate. The Libyan Coast Guard has recently caught 7,500 migrants off the country's coast, who were heading to Italy and Malta. According to Italy's interior ministry, over 21 thousand migrants have made landfall in the country so far this year - even despite the pandemic - compared to only 6,000 during the same period last year.

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