Con­cern on Leros over mi­grants

Riot at re­cep­tion cen­ter leads vol­un­teers to leave, mayor to call for trans­fers

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Ten­sions are sim­mer­ing at a refugee re­cep­tion cen­ter on the eastern Aegean is­land of Leros fol­low­ing a se­ries of up­ris­ings by mi­grants at the camp who are rest­less af­ter months of wait­ing for news about their fates.

Po­lice re­in­force­ments have been sent to the is­land from nearby Kos, where an­other re­cep­tion cen­ter is lo­cated, af­ter a riot on Satur­day be­tween mi­grants of dif- fer­ent ethnic ori­gins which spi­raled into a con­fronta­tion with lo­cal res­i­dents who had gath­ered out­side the camp. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of for­eign aid or­ga­ni­za­tions which have been help­ing on Leros claimed to have re­ceived threats from far-right pro­test­ers on the is­land. Some vol­un­teers have left Leros in re­cent days fol­low­ing the up­heaval, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal re­ports.

Although the cen­ter on the is­land hosts just 690 of some 56,000 mi­grants cur­rently in Greece, ten­sions ap­pear to be es­ca­lat­ing, ac­cord­ing to lo­cals. “The lack of any development is driv­ing them crazy,” Matina Kat­siveli, a lo­cal vol­un­teer, told Kathimerini. “They want to know if they’re go­ing to be re­turned to Turkey,” she said.

There have been three sui­cide at­tempts at the camp, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal re­ports.

An­other prob­lem is the predica­ment of unac­com­pa­nied minors. Due to the lack of suit­able fa­cil­i­ties to ac­com­mo­date them, dozens of young mi­grants are sleep­ing in po­lice precincts.

The mayor of Leros, Michalis Kol­lias, yes­ter­day called for all the mi­grants on the is­land to be trans­ferred to an­other cen­ter on main­land Greece.

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