Refugees And Migrants Flee Lesbos Camp Blaze

Greek Lesbos Camp Fire
A migrant is covered with a blanket after a fire on the island of Lesbos, Greece, September 19. Many refugees are held there while their claims are processed. Intimenews/Manolis Lagoutaris/Reuters

About 4,000 refugees and migrants have been forced to flee after fire tore through tents and homes in a large refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, on Monday night.

Police are investigating whether the blaze was deliberate, the BBC reported, with Greek state news agency ANA saying a fracas started in the camp over rumors that mass deportations to Turkey were about to begin.

Lesbos is hugely overcrowded, with around 5,600 refugees living in an area that only has space for 3,600.

Many are held on the island for a substantial amount of time, landing there and then having to wait as their asylum claims are processed.

Those who succeed move on to the Greek mainland, while many others are returned to Turkey under the deal brokered between Brussels and Ankara earlier this year.

The fire destroyed 30 percent of the camp, Aris Vlashopoulos, an aid worker with the Swiss charity SAO, told the BBC.

"People are returning to the camp now as I can see. But the biggest number of the refugees are already on the streets, sleeping outside," he said.

Refugees And Migrants Flee Lesbos Camp Blaze | World