Tensions flare at refugee camps

19 March 2016
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While European Union leaders struggled this week to clinch a deal with Turkey in Brussels, tensions at makeshift refugee camps in Greece were beginning to boil over, with reports of violent brawls proliferating.

In the latest incident on Friday at Piraeus port, one man was lightly injured when around 50 Afghan and Syrian asylum seekers came to blows after a disagreement involving mobile phone chargers. The punch-up took place inside a passenger terminal converted to a refugee shelter and was broken up by port security officers, who detained two men. The brawl followed a similar incident at the port on Thursday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees arrived at Piraeus from the islands on Friday and were bused to relocation camps in Ioannina in an attempt by authorities to prevent further overcrowding.

With more than 5,000 refugees, Piraeus port is beginning to look increasingly like the tent city at Idomeni, which Interior Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis likened on Friday to the WWII Dachau concentration camp. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) set up three more tents at Idomeni to accommodate up to 160 people after many refugees were forced to sleep outdoors in tiny tents in rainy conditions.

More than 10,500 refugees, may of them children suffering from bouts of cold and fever, are stranded in squalid conditions at the sprawling camp near the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, while the latest official estimates put the total number of migrants in Greece at 46,207, with 23,814 in northern Greece, 9,500 in Attica, 7,271 on the islands and the rest scattered around the country.

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