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Tensions building on Lesvos over migrants

TAGS: Migration

Tensions were building on the Aegean island of Lesvos on Thursday, a day after an elderly man threatened refugees outside the Moria camp with a hunting rifle, as authorities continued with efforts to accommodate hundreds of migrants left homeless following Monday’s fire at the camp.

According to a police spokesperson, the 84-year-old was seen by police on Wednesday afternoon brandishing a rifle and shouting abuse outside the Moria camp, which was partially destroyed in a large fire started by frustrated migrants on Monday night. He was detained but not arrested due to his old age, the spokesperson said, adding that he faced charges of illegal weapons possession.

The Moria community leader, Nikos Trakellis, told Kathimerini that the situation was spiraling out of control. “Everything is chaotic. You cannot keep 3,000 people in a space designed for 800,” he said, referring to the refugee camp. He said things would get worse in winter. “They’ll be obliged to vandalize things just to keep warm and they’ll come into our homes looking for food,” he said.

Commenting on the assaults carried out by suspected members of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party on pro-refugee demonstrators in recent days, a local resident who gave her name only as Katerina said she feared tensions would escalate. “Europe doesn’t want them. There’s no room for them on the islands. What’s going to happen to them? We’ll end up killing each other in the end.”

In a related development, Amnesty International on Thursday released a damning report, saying that most of some 60,000 migrants stranded in Greece are living in “appalling conditions” and face “immense and avoidable suffering.” Amnesty called on Greece to improve conditions and on other European countries to speed up a lagging relocation process, saying it would take 18 years to meet existing targets at the current rate.

Meeting in New York on Thursday on the sidelines of a United Nations summit, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to work together to support the implementation of an agreement between Ankara and the European Union to curb human trafficking in the Aegean.

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