MORIA, Lesvos – Some 2,000 Afghani nationals residing at Lesvos island’s Moria refugee reception and identification center on Monday protested delays in the processing of asylum applications, while a breakaway group clashed with police.
A 70 pct of some 20,000 delayed applications was filed by Afghanis who arrived at the island by year’s end of 2019 and are living in the greater region of Mytilini.
The migrants said they were protesting because asylum services are processing applications of asylum seekers who arrived after the New Year under the new asylum law, while the paperwork of other applicants who have been stuck at Moria for many months is disregarded.
The tension spiked when police sought to prevent a group of roughly 1,000 asylum seekers from marching to Mytilini, Lesvos’ main town, via the surrounding mountains and setting fires at local farm land.
Others reportedly set fire at farms near a Public Power Corporation (PPC) power plant, while another group managed to reach Mytilini town, where they occupied the central road leading to the harbor, setting up tents and road blocks in front of the municipal theatre.
Lesvos’ New Democracy MP Charalambos Athanasiou told local reporters that “measures concerning the camp’s decongestion and improvements in the processing of applications must be urgently implemented.”
The migrants’ protest eventually subsided and fires put out, while Lesvos police on Monday early evening began to plan the migrants’ return to the Moria hotspot.