Protesting Refugees, Migrants Tangle With Police on Greek Island of Lesbos

Αssociated Press

File- Refugees and migrants burn garbage bins and chant slogans as they demonstate outside Moria camp, following the stabbing death of an 20-year-old man from Yemen in the Greek island of Lesbos. (AP Photo/Aggelos Barai)

MORIA, Lesbos - More violence erupted at the vastly overcrowded refugee and migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, holding nearly 20,000 people in a space designed for about 3,000, when protesters clashed with police as tension keeps rising there.

The trouble erupted, said Kathimerini, when police squads tried to keep some 2,000 protesters from the Moria camp from reaching the capital Mytilini, detainees unhappy about living conditions that human rights groups said are inhumane.

The refugees and migrants are also getting more frustrated over delays in asylum applications that can take up to two years or longer to process with Greece complaining of getting too little help from the European Union, which closed its borders to them.

Media on the island said police used tear gas to disperse groups of protesters trying to break through a cordon set up on the main road leading from Moria to Mytilini and that clashes were continuing as the march pushed forward to reach the island’s capital.

There’s constant trouble and violence in the camp between ethnic groups squashed together with Greece overrun with about 100,000 refugees and migrants, including about 50,000 on islands.

The New Democracy government said it would move about 20,000 to mainland camps but island officials and residents are upset over the slow pace and unhappy that camps could be replaced with detention centers aimed at vetting those deemed ineligible for sanctuary.