Police and protesters clash on Greek islands over new migrant camps

Greek riot police fire teargas during clashes with demonstrators on Lesbos. Photograph: Manolis Lagoutaris/AFP via Getty Images

Police and protesters clash on Greek islands over new migrant camps

Teargas used against demonstrators on Lesbos and Chios who want migrants moved to the mainland

Clashes have broken out on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios, where residents tried to prevent the arrival of riot police and excavating machines to be used to build new migrant detention camps.

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowds that gathered early on Tuesday to try to prevent officers from disembarking from government-chartered ferries.

On Lesbos, protesters set fire to bins and used municipal rubbish trucks to try to block the port area.

Police on Chios also used teargas and flash grenades. At least three people were treated in hospital for breathing difficulties caused by the extensive use of teargas, local officials said.

A protester sits in front of riot police at the port of Mytilene on Lesbos.
 A protester sits in front of riot police at the port of Mytilene on Lesbos. Photograph: Michael Varaklas/AP

The government says it will press ahead with plans to build the new facilities and has promised to replace existing camps where severe overcrowding has worsened in recent months.

Many island residents as well as local authorities argue the migrants and asylum seekers should be moved to the Greek mainland.

The standoff between police and protesters continued later on Tuesday near the areas where the new camps will be built, as police cordoned off areas around roadblocks set up over the past few days by demonstrators on the two islands.

“We understand that there is a problem of trust that was created over the previous years,” the government’s spokesman, Stelios Petsas, told state-run TV. “But the closed facilities will be built and we are calling on the public to support this.”

Petsas said the government also had to act due to heightened concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, arguing that proper health checks could not be carried out at existing overcrowded camps.

Greece is the busiest entry point for illegal migration in the European Union, with most arrivals occurring on eastern Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast. Under a 2016 agreement, backed and funded by the EU, the movement of migrants is restricted to those islands until their asylum claims are processed.

Nearly 60,000 migrants and refugees arrived on Greek islands last year, almost double the number recorded in 2018, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.

Πηγή >> https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/25/police-and-protesters-clash-on-greek-islands-over-new-migrant-camps


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