Villagers in northern Greece block refugees from settling in local hotels


Authorities were forced to abandon plans to house about 400 refugees in a small seaside village in northern Greece on Tuesday night, after residents vehemently opposed their settlement in local hotels.

The refugees, who had been transferred from an overcrowded camp in Samos to the mainland, travelled with eight buses to the village of Vrasna, northeast of Thessaloniki.

When they reached the outskirts of the village, they found two groups of local residents blocking their way. Riot police was also called in when local hoteliers, under pressure from the protesters, reneged on their initial agreement to house the new arrivals.

“We had warned the authorities not to bring to Vrasna more people because local residents are enraged. They didn’t listen to us,” Volvi mayor Diamantis Liamas told local news website Voria.

“There was tension early on and eventually, when the buses arrived, the hotels were closed.”

At 4 a.m., and as the deadlock continued, authorities eventually decided to turn back and head towards the town of Halkida, Evia – a ride that will take about eight hours, according to Voria.

The wider municipality of Volvi (Vayiohori, Loutra Neas Apollonias, Vrasna) is already home to 2,000 refugees and migrants.