Chios tense after unrest at migrant camp

Chios tense after unrest at migrant camp

There were concerns on Thursday about the situation on the island of Chios after upheaval at the Souda migrant reception center late on Wednesday and in the early hours of Thursday destroyed much of the premises. It was unclear exactly how the unrest began.

Greek police said they detained 37 migrants after rioting during which fires were set. According to police sources, the trouble began late on Wednesday when migrants allegedly looted two local stores, stealing liquor and fireworks. They are then alleged to have let off the fireworks close to the camp, startling nearby residents. Later, according to police, a group of around 100 migrants set up a roadblock near the reception center and started throwing stones and fireworks at nearby police units. Riot police officers responded by raiding the premises.

Volunteers working with migrants on the island gave a different version of events, however, claiming that members of far-right groups attacked the center, pelting it with stones, provoking the migrants to retaliate. Riot police then stormed the center to restore order.

It was the third time in the past month that rioting, and fires, have damaged the center. Last week many of the tents in the center were flooded following heavy rain.

Some 1,000 migrants remained in the center on Thursday but hundreds were displaced due to the damage caused by the latest bout of unrest.

On Thursday morning Chios Mayor Manolis Vournous contacted Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas before the latter departed for Brussels, asking for the migrant reception center on the island to be closed down. Earlier this month Mouzalas had pledged to close the center and transfer the migrants to a new, larger facility but that has yet to be found.

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