Greek police use tear gas against protesting migrants on island
Police on the Greek island of Samos on Dec. 19 fired tear gas to disperse asylum-seekers protesting dismal conditions at their severely overcrowded camp, state agency ANA said.
The mainly African asylum-seekers blocked a road near the camp and threw stones at police, the agency said.
Samos is one of five Greek islands receiving a steady stream of asylum-seekers from neighboring Turkey under rapidly deteriorating conditions.
According to government figures, around 7,500 people are staying at the Samos camp, built to handle no more than 650. Most of them sleep in tents and shacks outside the facility.
The government has pledged to replace the camp with a larger one with a capacity of at least 5,000 people.
But local authorities resist the move, calling for the removal of most of the asylum-seekers instead.
Samos mayor Yiorgos Stantzos has threatened to resign unless plans for the new enlarged camp are scrapped. On Dec. 17, news website Samos24.gr filmed Stantzos shouting at migrants on the island’s main square. “Go, f… you, get out,” the mayor said, pushing one of them.
“They [occupy] our squares and our children have to leave... They should leave the island. There is no other solution,” Stantzos then told the reporter. He later claimed that a group of migrants had vandalized five cars.
Greece this year again became the main entry into Europe for migrants and refugees. The U.N. refugee agency recorded more than 55,000 arrivals by sea and more than 14,000 via the land border with Turkey.
Only a fraction are allowed passage to the Greek mainland while the rest spend months in the camps, waiting for their asylum applications to be processed.