Government spokesman deplores violence at Lesvos migrant rally

Government spokesman deplores violence at Lesvos migrant rally

Authorities will reportedly investigate whether the violence that broke out during Monday’s march on the Aegean island of Lesvos by hundreds of angry migrants and refugees from the notorious Moria camp was deliberate and not just a response to the presence of police blocking the road to the island’s capital.

Describing the clashes between protesters and police on the outskirts of Mytilini as an “unfortunate” incident, government spokesman Stelios Petsas told a regular press briefing in Athens on Tuesday that more police are being sent to the island that rumors the march from Moria to Mytilini may have been “incited” will be looked into.

“People may be frustrated but they need to understand this: the policy has changed. And the government is developing every axis of its plan: guarding borders more effectively, speeding up asylum procedures, increasing returns and creating closed pre-deportation centers,” Petsas said.

The government spokesman added that Monday’s violence “confirms the need to speed up asylum procedures and the return of those who are not entitled to asylum.” He said it also confirmed the need for planned closed centers where migrants slated for deportation will be held under detention.

“It is evident that delinquent behavior is not in keeping with the procedures for claiming asylum,” Petsas said.

He added that returns have already picked up pace, coming to 85 in January against just 391 throughout 2019. “Our aim is to double them so that they reach 200 a week within the next three months,” Petsas added.

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