UN Group Says Anti-Refugee, Migrant Incidents Rising in Greece

Αssociated Press

An Afghan mother holds her child upon their arrival from Lesbos island to the port of Piraeus, near Athens. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS- With Greece housing more than 73,000 refugees and migrants almost five years into a crisis that saw hundreds of thousands use the country to try to get to other more prosperous destinations in the European Union, xenophobic and racist incidents against them are on the rise the UN-backed Racist Violence Recording Network said.

That came after a surge of 40,000 more from Turkey, where they had gone fleeing war and strife in their homelands – primarily Syria and Afghanistan – sent by human traffickers allowed to operate during an essentially-suspended swap deal with the EU, which closed its doors to refugee and migrants.

Technically violating the agreement that has seen Turkey take back only a relative handful, the new New Democracy government is moving thousands of the more than 33,700 on islands to the mainland to offset the constant new arrivals.

Greece also wants to send 20,000 back to Turkey with no word on how that would happen as virtually all are seeking asylum, although a new scheme would separate economic migrants who would be ineligible from refugees fearing for their lives if returned.

Protests against the arrival of asylum seekers have been held in several towns in northern Greece where they were taken, with residents of Nea Vrasna town blocking a bus carrying more than 400 of them hurling stones and chanting "close the border"as many are weary of the problem,

A nationalist group in the village of Diavata invited locals to a barbecue with pork and alcohol in front of a refugee camp that was denounced by an activist group which said that “Any concerns of local communities should not be allowed to be exploited by organized racist groups," urging the government to send "a clear message that such actions are not tolerated in a country governed by the rule of law,” the site also said.