The regional governor of the Northern Aegean, Kostas Moutzouris submitted a new call on Wednesday to declare a state of emergency on three islands, following two days of protest marches by asylum seekers demanding better living conditions and a quicker asylum procedure, and attacks by extremists in Lesvos.
“The government was wrong to reject our request to declare a state of emergency on Lesvos, Chios and Samos. If the current situation is not an emergency, then what is?” he asked.
“The government is imposing the creation of new migrant camps that will cost hundreds of millions and which, based on simple arithmetics, will not solve any problem – on the contrary, they will deteriorate it,” he added.
On Tuesday, a group of about 250 asylum seekers, mostly Afghan residents of Moria, rallied outside the Municipal Theater in the island’s capital Mytilene demanding “freedom” and shouting, “Lesvos people, we are sorry.” The police intervened to prevent protesters from blocking traffic. One woman was injured in a stampede as demonstrators fled the scene to avoid possible arrest.
On Monday riot police clashed with about 2,000 Afghan asylum seekers who tried to march to Mytilene. Reacting to the incident, residents of the village of Moria Tuesday barged into the Mytilene offices of the General Secretariat for Aegean and Island Policy demanding the closure of Moria, intensified sea patrols, and stricter monitoring of NGOs.
Despite the tension, the government on Tuesday rejected Moutzouris' request.
Meanwhile, a group of about 20 youths wearing helmets and holding clubs attacked regulars at a bar in Mytilene where students and NGO employees were gathered.
The same group roamed the town of Mytilene after midnight asking locals and foreigners to identify themselves, according to eye witnesses who talked to the police.
Authorities believe the same individuals were in the village of Moria earlier in the afternoon checking if foreigners, asylum seekers or employees in NGOs lived or worked there.
The masked group smashed the car of an Italian national who works for an NGO. Two asylum seekers were passengers when the incident happened.
Police was alerted after the attacks.