With winter approaching, refugees and migrants living in tents and detention centers on Greek islands are getting more agitated, demanding to be moved to the mainland, with one group from Afghanistan setting up a camp on the main square of Lesbos in protest.
The asylum seekers wanted to draw attention to their plights as human rights groups stepped up their criticism of the handling of the crisis by Migration Minister Yiannas Mouzalas, who even some in his own ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party have ripped.
Shopkeepers on Mytilini’s Sapphous Square, who had prompted the evacuation of the protesters who has squatted for nearly 20 days in the square, called the police and asked for them to be pushed out again, Kathimerini said.
That led to local supporters of far-right anti-immigrant groups screaming at the migrants and shoving reporters while violence seemed imminent, the paper said.
Riot police arrived and, with the help of a prosecutor and Lesbos Mayor Spyros Galinos, convinced the migrants to be escorted to the PIKPA camp with the promise to take another look as asylum applications and whether they could be taken to the mainland – although Mouzalas said there’s no chance they will.
More than 14,000 refugees and migrants are stuck on Greek islands where they were sent by human traffickers that Turkey allows to operate in the wake of a suspended European Union swap program and as Europe’s borders have been shut to them.