The refugee-hosting crisis in the Greek islands is spiralling out of control, a regional governor said after violent clashes that took place yesterday (19 September).
Severe clashes were reported yesterday at a hot spot on Lesvos, which hosts 88 different nationalities. According to reports in Athens, a huge fight between asylum seekers resulted in the destruction of a detention centre by fire.
According to the latest data provided by the North Aegean Sea police department, there are 5,302 asylum seekers on Lesvos, 3,726 on Chios, and 1,156 on Samos. 10,184 refugees and migrants are said to be spread throughout the islands of the Northern Aegean.
“People from various nationalities who do not know what to do for months now and remain trapped on the island collided and burned each other’s tents with all their belongings,” according to the Athens News Agency.
The riots, which began at 7PM on Monday, were reported to have been sparked by a rumour that massive returns to Turkey are imminent.
— LifeguardHellas team (@lifeguardhellas) September 19, 2016
Out of control
“We are heading to situations that may become unmanageable,” Christiana Kalogirou, regional governor of the North Aegean, told Skai TV today.
She noted that despite their will to contribute, islanders were getting tired of the migration issue and underlined that Greece and the North Aegean “cannot lift so much of weight”.
Kalogirou continued, saying that Europe has not met its obligations on the issue and stressed that the economic burden of the islands is huge.
“We must take immediate action, there is no other time … 5,400 people are actually the capacity of our region, and immigrants exceed the 10,600,” she added.
Sources from the Greek coastguard told EURACTIV.com that there are specific individuals who are abetting uprising, either “leaders” of migrants at a hot spot, or members of humanitarian NGOs.
To date, three NGO employees have been arrested, accused of being complicit in the violence.