Germany to take in 1,500 migrants from Greece, after huge fire left thousands homeless

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Germany will take more than 1,500 migrants currently sheltering on Greek islands, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson Steffen Seibert announced Tuesday. (FILE PHOTO)

(CNN) —  

The country's decision comes after a major fire wrecked a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

A statement from Seibert says that 1,553 people from 408 families who have already secured refugee status will be taken in.

In addition, the German government is "committed to a further European solution with other welcoming member states," he said.

In the context of such a European solution, Germany will also participate "to make an additional effort in line with the size of our country," the statement said.

Last week, a massive fire destroyed Moria, Europe's largest refugee camp, leaving 13,000 people homeless on Lesbos. Germany said after the fire that it would take in 150 unaccompanied minors from the burnt-out camp.

Five people were arrested over the fire on Tuesday and one person is still being sought. The three adults and two minors are Afghan nationals, Greek Police told CNN.

Moria had been under lockdown measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had earlier described the situation as a "humanitarian catastrophe."

"What is happening in Moria is a humanitarian catastrophe," Maas wrote on September 9.

"As quickly as possible, we have to clarify with the EU commission and other EU countries willing to help, how we can support Greece. This includes the distribution of those fleeing amongst those in the EU willing to accept them."

Germany has been working with France to assist the Moria migrants and French President Emmanuel Macron has said he hopes European countries will come together to solve the crisis.

"We are coordinating to offer a proposition, Germany and France, and we're trying to include a maximum of European countries, to welcome refugees and minors in particular, depending on the demands of the Greek government," he said on September 10.

Thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded in Moria and have been left homeless in the aftermath of the fire. Greece is building a fresh camp but many of Moria's former inhabitants do not want to return to a camp.

Human rights groups and NGOs have warned that the migrants are living in dangerous conditions which lack sanitation.

"European leaders should act quickly to bring the people stranded on Lesbos to safety," Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a statement Wednesday.

HRW also warned that vulnerable women had been left alone on the streets of Lesbos "with no clear provisions for their protection."

This story was first published on CNN.com "Germany to take in 1,500 migrants from Greece, after huge fire left thousands homeless"