Scuffles on Chios over overcrowded migrant camp

15 September 2016
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Scuffles broke out on the Greek island of Chios, police said Thursday, during a protest by locals demanding the departure of some 3,500 refugees and migrants held there.

Riot police were deployed late on Wednesday to keep a crowd of 800 people from approaching two migrant camps, a police source told AFP.

“A few bursts of tear gas” were fired when the protesters tried to break through the cordon and reach one of the camps, the officer added.

State agency ANA said journalists were also chased from the scene. One of them said he was struck by a protester allegedly linked to Greece’s neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.

Four camp volunteers and a migrant were also briefly detained when they came out of the facility, the police officer said.

There are now over 60,000 refugees and migrants in Greece, most of them seeking to travel to Germany and other affluent EU countries.

But they are unable to do so after a succession of eastern European and Balkan states shut their borders earlier this year.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the condition of Greek migrant camps, pointing to overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions.

The situation is particularly acute on several eastern Aegean islands facing Turkey, where most of the migrants land and are held for registration.

According to government data, there are over 13,000 people on five islands in facilities built to house fewer than 8,000.

Brawls are common in the island camps, with many desperate to avoid being returned to Turkey or their home countries after spending a small fortune and risking their lives trying to escape poverty and persecution.

Another row between African and Afghan migrants broke out late on Wednesday in a camp on the island of Lesvos, ANA said.

The Greek government is building additional camp space on the mainland with EU funding and assistance.

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