Authorities beefed up the police presence at a reception center for refugees at the site of the old Athens airport in Elliniko on Friday following a brawl that left an Afghan man dead.
According to witnesses, the man was stabbed and beaten during a fight with other Afghans on Thursday night. He died a few hours later at the Asklipieio Hospital in nearby Voula, with doctors saying that he had suffered massive head injuries. Another two migrants suffered minor injuries.
Commenting on Friday, Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas conceded that overcrowded conditions at the center – where some 3,500 people sleep in tents and sleeping bags – have fueled tensions. He said authorities planned to move the migrants to three new camps in Attica and Viotia, probably within the next 10 days. However, at a meeting of government officials on Thursday evening, just hours before the brawl at Elliniko, the consensus had been that another makeshift camp for migrants at Piraeus should be evacuated first.
The situation at Elliniko is increasingly tense, with many families telling aid workers that they fear for their safety as brawls are an almost daily occurence. Tensions have also peaked at other camps across Greece, most recently at a center on the Aegean island of Leros.
Meanwhile an increasing number of migrants are seeking to leave Greece, according to the International Organization for Migration, which runs a repatriation program. Since the beginning of this year, 3,432 migrants have been returned to their home countries under the IOM’s program.