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Unrest on island of Lesbos Unrest on island of Lesbos  (AFP or licensors)

Migrants, police and locals clash on island of Lesbos

Social unrest is escalating on the Greek island of Lesbos, which entered its third day of violent clashes between Middle Eastern migrants and police over the migrants’ primitive living conditions.

By John Carr

For three days now migrants from the overcrowded holding camp at Moria on Lesbos have marched through the streets of Mytilene, the main town, demanding better accommodation and speedier asylum procedures.  The police have responded with truncheons and tear gas.

Backing the police are many local people, who claim their rural economies are being ruined by migrants destroying crops and stealing farm animals.  They also fear a dramatic drop in tourism.  Some claim the Greek leftwing opposition is stoking the protests.

Local authorities on Lesbos and other islands with migrant camps have called on the Greek government to declare a state of emergency over the whole region.  But the government has shied away from that, insisting that it will build big new sheltered housing for the nearly 20,000 migrants huddling in unsanitary tents at Moria.

Last week the government here in Athens said it would try floating barriers to deter migrants crossing from Turkey.  But it has previous few constructive suggestions, apart from reinforcing the police garrisons on the islands.

05 February 2020, 13:39