Greece: Protest, fire breaks out at migrant camp

Lesbo migrant camp on July 10.
Friday, July 14, 2017

A fire broke out at a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on July 10, following a protest at the site demanding better living conditions.

Local authorities told the Xinhua News Agency that the fire at the Moria camp had been extinguished and that at least five container units and three tents were destroyed. No injuries were reported.

According to the Greek Athens-Macedonia News Agency, ANA, the incidents began when a group of migrants headed toward the pre-departure centre operating within the camp and began to protest the living conditions of people who were due to be returned to Turkey. 

“What happened was that, during the transfer of a migrant to the pre-departure centre, after the conclusion of the process for examining his right to asylum at primary and secondary level, his application was rejected and there was a decision for his return,” Greek Deputy Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Balafas said during a radio interview on July 11.

The police intervened but were met with a barrage of stones. In response, the police fired tear gas, after which the violence spread, ANA reported. The fire is believed to have been started deliberately.

By sunset, the firefighters had extinguished the flames. Police said a small group was involved in the incidents, but no immediate arrests were made. 

More than 14,000 migrants remain stranded on Lesbos and other Greek islands near Turkey. They are not allowed to travel to the Greek mainland under the terms of an agreement between the European Union and Turkey reached last year.

Under the deal, refugees and migrants are hosted in Moria until their cases are assessed. Those who are not granted asylum are sent to Turkey.

Refugees and migrants have frequently complained about delays in the evaluation process of their bids.

“The people are tired, they are tired of what is happening here,” one witness told Sky News.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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