Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas said the government is “concerned, not proud and not happy” following clashes between migrants and riot police at a refugee registration center on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos on Tuesday evening that resulted in 15 people being injured.
Mouzalas was speaking to the ANA-MPA news agency in the early hours of Wednesday, following the incident that sparked off after his visit to the camp and rumors that a number of asylum applications had been turned down.
“There were a few minor scuffles that grew later in the night and necessitated police intervention. Now the situation is looking calm,” Mouzalas said, speaking from the general hospital at the island’s capital, Mytilene.
The official confirmed that 15 minors in their late teens were injured in the clashes. He said that they are among some 90 unaccompanied minors being held for processing at the Moria center as conditions there are preferable to police holding cells.
“Through independent translators we ascertained that the trouble began with tensions between two different ethnic groups, Pakistanis and Afghans, and that [the injuries] were not caused by police violence,” Mouzalas said. “Such phenomena will exist in situations like this and our ability to handle them in the best possible way will be judged on every occasion.
“We are concerned, not proud and not happy. But I did see that everyone is trying hard,” the minister said.
Mouzalas defended the deployment of riot police, saying “violence was used today because it had to be. Whether it was excessive or not remains to be seen.”
He added that “we expect to see such outbursts and everything will come down to how we deal with them and also by the European Union’s ability to guarantee the enforcement of the deal” between the EU and Turkey for migrant and refugee relocations.