December 1, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Protesters set fire to machinery building migrant camp in Lesbos, four arrested

On Tuesday, authorities said four people were arrested on the Greek island of Lesbos after “an outbreak of violence” while protesting plans to build a new migrant camp.

After peacefully marching to the construction site, during heavy rain on Monday, a small group of protesters set fire to earth-moving equipment used by a contractor who had begun work on the 87.5 million euro ($100 million) project.

A police statement on Tuesday said the four suspects face charges including attempted grievous bodily harm, arson and destruction of property. The identities of six more people allegedly involved in the violence have been identified.

The prison-type camp in Plati, 30 km north of the capital of the island of Mytilene, according to the plan of the authorities, should be commissioned 1.5 years ago and accommodate up to 3,000 migrants and asylum seekers who were denied refugee status.

Lesbos was the busiest entry point into the European Union in 2015-2016 as hundreds of thousands of refugees from wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere moved west from Turkey.

A heavily overcrowded refugee camp in Moria, south of the island, was destroyed in 2020 by a fire that Greek authorities say was deliberately ignited by camp residents and replaced with temporary accommodation.

The European Union is funding the construction of new camps on five Greek islands facing the Turkish coast. The new facilities have restricted freedom of movement, drawing criticism from human rights groups.

Local authorities on Lesvos are supporting the protests and have threatened to sue the Greek national government to try to stop the project.

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