Ireland has been asked to take a small number of unaccompanied minors following the fire at Greece's largest migrant camp, Moria on the island of Lesbos, the Department of Justice has confirmed.

The fire broke out at the camp, which is home to 12,000 people, on Tuesday night. Greek officials say they believe it was lit deliberately by migrants reacting to quarantine measures after Covid-19 was detected in the camp last week.

An Irish doctor based on the island described the fire at as "absolutely catastrophic".

Dr Claire Dunne, from Co Laois, said she believes the blaze has caused the biggest humanitarian crisis that  the island has faced in living memory.

Germany says ten European countries have already agreed to take just over 400 unaccompanied minors who fled the camp following the blaze.

The majority will go to Germany and France, according to Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

However, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for others in the European Union to "assume more shared responsibility" for migration policy.

While several EU states, including Germany, France, the Netherlands and Finland, have agreed to take in the young migrants the AFP news agency reported this evening that Belgium refused and Denmark said it would send money instead.

Talks are ongoing with other states.


Inside Camp Moria: Refugees remain hopeful despite dire conditions


In a statement this evening, the Department of Justice in Ireland said: "Requests for assistance to Ireland for the relocation of applicants for protection are given careful consideration, taking into account our existing commitments on relocation and resettlement, under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, and having regard to domestic constraints, in particular relating to travel during the pandemic and availability of suitable accommodation."

The statement says: "Like other EU countries, Ireland has been asked to take in a small number of unaccompanied minors," and adds: "From a sense of EU solidarity, Ireland generally collaborates when requests are made."

The Department of Justice said it will consider any requests that may be made for the relocation of others in line with its commitments under the Refugee Protection Programme.

However the Department pointed out that care for unaccompanied minors here falls to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and its agencies.

A spokesperson for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said Minister Roderic O'Gorman was "currently examining the matter."

People left without shelter on the island of Lesbos after the fire have faced off against police as authorities began setting up hundreds of tents to try to contain the crisis.

With more than 12,000 former occupants of the overcrowded reception centre now camping out in fields and along roadsides without food or water and threatened by a possible spread of coronavirus infections, the need for a solution has become increasingly urgent.

However the Greek government has been forced to tread warily due to growing anger among residents of an island whose location a few miles off the Turkish coast has kept them on the frontline of Europe's migrant crisis for years.

The migrants, most from Africa, Syria or Afghanistan, have been desperate to get off the island and a group of several hundred gathered a few miles outside the main port of Mytilene, near a supermarket where helicopters landed tents and supplies.

Shouting "Freedom!" and "No police!" and waving handmade signs reading "No new camp", or "Please Help Us!" they faced off against police who blocked them going down the road into town.