Tensions high at Greece’s migrant, refugee camps

Tensions high at Greece’s migrant, refugee camps

Police used tear gas to stop clashes between rival groups of rock-throwing Pakistani and Afghan migrants in the sprawling border camp at Idomeni in northern Greece on Tuesday, as incidents of violence along ethnic lines proliferate and protests at camps across the country have become a daily reality.

According to Giorgos Kyritsis, the spokesman for the government’s coordinating body for refugees, four new reception centers will soon be created in the wider region of Thessaloniki.

However, although two buses transported a few dozen refugees to nearby centers on Tuesday, Idomeni is still home to almost 10,000 migrants and refugees living in deplorable and tense conditions – 2,500 of them remain camped on the railtracks leading into the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which has imposed a weeks-long blockade on train services on the line.

At the Elliniko camp in Athens, which provides shelter to some 3,500 asylum seekers, hundreds of migrants, mostly Afghans, on Tuesday refused to eat in protest at the quality of the food and because of their widely held belief that Syrian refugees are receiving preferential treatment at their expense.

“Afghans here are wondering why they can’t be included in the [EU’s] resettlement program. If they don’t get asylum then they will return to Afghanistan and they will die and the EU won’t take responsibility for it because [the Afghans] are not considered refugees,” said Nadir Noor, who is responsible for the camp at the baseball stadium sheltering some 1,000 people.

According to the latest official data, 54,347 migrants are still stranded in Greece, despite the sharp reduction of migrant flows into Greece since the deal in March between Brussels and Ankara, and a European Commission report insisted on Tuesday that Athens needs more support, technical know-how and assistance to cope.

There are currently 9,682 migrants at Idomeni, 14,435 in Attica, of whom 2,135 are stranded at Piraeus port, and the rest are scattered around the country, the coordinating body of the refugee crisis management said on Tuesday.

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