Tension was palpable on Friday on the eastern Aegean island of Chios after a group of men, reportedly members of Golden Dawn, launched an attack against refugees and migrants at the Souda camp late on Thursday.
Police arrested two local men who are scheduled to appear in court on Monday over the attack. One of the suspects also faces charges of impersonating a police officer in order to violently frisk and then assault refugees and migrants.
The camp, located next to the ruins of a medieval castle in the island’s capital, was also attacked by a far-right mob armed with Molotov cocktails and rocks in November.
Thursday’s incident occurred after a heated debate at a meeting of the island’s municipal council to discuss whether to allow the creation of a medical unit by the Spanish non-governmental organization Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario (SMH) in a part of a building housing a former clinic.
The meeting was attended by residents who voiced their opposition to the SMH’s plans, while people gathered outside the municipal council building to protest the fact that 2,462 migrants and refugees are still stranded on the island.
However, reports said that the demonstration was infiltrated by members of far-right groups and that fights broke out between protestors.
The majority of the members of the municipal council sided with residents in their opposition to the Spanish organization’s plan, as there are rumors on the island that NGOs work in cahoots with people smugglers in order to encourage the flow of migrants into Europe and thus secure European Union funds.
“If refugees stop coming then all these guys (NGOs) will lose their jobs,” a local businessman said.
As a result of the increasing disaffection, the island’s mayor, Manolis Vournous, met on Friday with an SMH representative and asked that the organization withdraw from Chios on the grounds that NGOs must act within the action plan agreed to by local authorities and not autonomously.
Meanwhile, 26 people arrived on the neighboring island of Samos on Friday from Turkey.