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story.lead_photo.caption Greek soldiers set up tents at a shooting range Friday to accommodate refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos. More photos at arkansasonline.com/912lesbos/. (AP/Petros Giannakouris)

MYTILENE, Greece -- Authorities on Friday sought to shelter thousands of refugees and migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the squalid and overcrowded Moria camp that for years symbolized Europe's biggest migration policy failings.

Soldiers set up new tents on a site near Moria's blackened remnants. The structures were flown in by military helicopters to forestall protests by Lesbos' permanent residents angry at their island's protracted use as a holding center for thousands arriving from nearby Turkey.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said authorities have "moved very fast" to construct a temporary facility.

Thousands of people who fled the camp prepared to sleep rough for a third night under makeshift shelters beside the road to the island capital of Mytilene, in parking lots, fields and even a cemetery.

Greek officials said the fires Tuesday and Wednesday were deliberately set by a few camp residents angered by isolation orders issued to prevent the spread of the coronavirus after 35 residents were found to have been infected.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

Tents for about 3,000 people -- out of Moria's 12,500 -- are expected to be erected at the new Kara Tepe site, near Mytilene, while the first migrants and refugees were expected to move in today.

Several hundred people from vulnerable groups were moved to rented accommodations, though a ferry sent to the other side of the island Thursday to temporarily house up to 1,000 people as a floating hotel remained inexplicably empty.

PROTESTS

Earlier, thousands of the migrants and refugees held a brief protest demanding to be allowed to leave Lesbos. That would require severe bending of European Union rules, under which asylum-seekers reaching Greece's islands from Turkey must stay there until they are either granted refugee status or deported back to Turkey.

The protesters sang, danced, clapped and banged plastic water bottles together in a boisterous but peaceful demonstration. Some held signs requesting help from Germany, a favored destination for many who arrive in Greece. Police blocked the road to Mytilene, from where many had hoped to board ferries for the mainland.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to view » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0RCpH0NeT8]

Authorities have said that none of the camp's residents -- except for 406 unaccompanied teenagers and children -- would be allowed to leave the island. The unaccompanied minors were flown to the Greek mainland Wednesday.

Moria had been under a lockdown until mid-September after the first virus case was identified in a Somali man who had been granted asylum and left for Athens but later returned to the camp.

On Friday, 200,000 rapid detection kits for the virus were flown to the island for an extensive testing drive that would include asylum-seekers and islanders.

The World Health Organization said Greece had asked for an emergency medical team. Two such teams, one from Belgium and one from Norway, were expected today and Monday.

The United Nations refugee agency said the pandemic is adding to "an already desperate situation."

"UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] has advised all those previously staying in the (camp) to restrict their movements until temporary solutions are found," it said.

Gallery: Lesbos refugees protest after devastating camp fire

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/912lesbos/]

The advice appeared to be largely ignored.

"We have spent three days here without eating, without drinking. We are in conditions that are really, really not very good," said Freddy Musamba from Gambia.

"I want to speak about the European Union, who abandoned us, who left us here like this," Musamba said. He called for the EU "to come and support us, to not leave us. We are like abandoned children. We have endured things we didn't know could happen."

​​​​​Information for this article was contributed by Elena Becatoros, Iliana Mier, Geir Moulson and Frank Jordans of The Associated Press.

Migrants take part in a rally as riot police block the road near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of refugees and migrants left without shelter on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the overcrowded Moria camp held a brief protest Friday on a road to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Panagiotis Balaskas)
Migrants take part in a rally as riot police block the road near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of refugees and migrants left without shelter on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the overcrowded Moria camp held a brief protest Friday on a road to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Panagiotis Balaskas)
Migrants take part in a rally near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Refugees and migrants cook on makeshift fires near an abandoned factory in the island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of refugees and migrants have spent a third night in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos after two consecutive nights of fires in the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp left them homeless. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Refugees and migrants cook on makeshift fires near an abandoned factory in the island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of refugees and migrants have spent a third night in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos after two consecutive nights of fires in the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp left them homeless. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally as the banner reads in German "Germany Please Help Us" near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally as the banner reads in German "Germany Please Help Us" near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally as riot police block the road near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally as riot police block the road near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Greek soldiers set up UNHCR tents at a shooting range to accommodate refugees, in Lesbos Island, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Some thousands of refugees and migrants have spent a third night in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos after two consecutive nights of fires in the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp left them homeless. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Greek soldiers set up UNHCR tents at a shooting range to accommodate refugees, in Lesbos Island, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Some thousands of refugees and migrants have spent a third night in the open on the Greek island of Lesbos after two consecutive nights of fires in the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp left them homeless. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally as riot police block the road near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants take part in a rally as riot police block the road near Mytilene town, on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Thousands of protesting refugees and migrants left homeless on the Greek island of Lesbos after fires destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria camp have gathered on a road leading to the island's main town, demanding to be allowed to leave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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