Fires erupt amid unrest at Samos migrant camp

Fires erupt amid unrest at Samos migrant camp

Just a week after the fire at the Vial migrant reception center on the eastern Aegean island of Chios on April 18, successive fires broke out in and around a camp Samos on Sunday, which, according to all indications, were due to arson.

In less than 24 hours, 27 people were detained, 21 of whom were arrested.

Of those arrested, 17 were charged with felonies – 15 for arson and two for robbery – while four others were charged with misdemeanors.

Workers at the centers and representatives of nongovernmental organizations have attributed the frequent outbreaks of violence and fires to pressure on the migrants due to poor living conditions and the many different nationalities living in the same area. 

This pressure has become more tangible during the Ramadan period which has been a source of tension at the facility between Muslims and non-Muslims from Sub-Saharan African countries.

Moreover, there was further unrest at the weekend due to the postponement of migrant transfers from the overcrowded facility to the Greek mainland.

Officials from the Migration and Asylum Ministry say that certain camp residents often resort to arson in order to create unrest. According to the testimonies of those who were said to be involved in last Sunday’s riots, the fires began after clashes between groups over power cables, as not everyone in the camp and on its periphery has access to electricity. 

The first fire broke out on Sunday afternoon, on the boundary between the Afghan and Arab areas outside the structure.

A little later, another fire broke out at another point, while the third and final fire occurred inside the camp. At least six containers and about 20 tents were destroyed​​​​​​.

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