Saturday

21st Jan 2017

Death and riots at EU asylum hotspot in Greece

  • A six-year old child is the latest victim in a cycle of violence and insecurity at EU hotspots in Greece (Photo: Fotomovimiento)

A woman and her young child have died on Thursday (24 November) at an asylum detention centre on the Greek island of Lesbos, triggering riots and clashes with police.

The two were killed when a gas cylinder exploded while cooking at the Moria camp, a so-called hotspot initiated by the EU commission where asylum seekers are screened and registered.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The deaths provoked a protest among other asylum seekers who have been stuck at camps described as open-prisons. The police clashes injured six asylum seekers, according to Greek media.

The latest violence and death follows similar incidents in other camps on the Greek islands with reports emerging of suicides, gang rape, sexual abuse of small children, and fights.

Fires had already ripped through Moria camp, home to around 4,000 migrants, in late September. Mounting frustrations over the slow pace of registration, along with rumours of mass returns to Turkey, reportedly factored into the blaze.

Last week, assailants had also tossed petrol bombs and large stones at tents at the Souda camp in Chios. The attackers are thought to be linked to the Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-nazi party. The unrest appears to have been triggered, in part, after four Algerian teenagers and one Iranian allegedly stole fireworks from a local shop.

The Belgium government, meanwhile, repatriated experts working on the islands due to the widespread insecurity. Belgium's far-right asylum minister Theo Francken, in an interview with a Belgian newspaper last week, announced he had ordered their return.

The EU commission has in the past said it cannot be held responsible for the deteriorating security among the overcrowded camps because they are managed by the Greek government.

'They are going to get angry'

"A large number of people on the islands are not processed and is creating and fueling tensions on a daily basis," said Vincent Cochetel, the director of the Europe branch of the UN’s refugee agency, at an event in Brussels in September.

"You have on a daily basis people who commit suicide, burning things, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians are not processed on the islands," he said.

Some have not have their application claims fully registered since the launch of the hotspots earlier this year.

"If you keep people in that sort of condition they are going to get angry," he said.

Focus

No opt-outs on migration, says Malta

For the Mediterranean country that just took the EU presidency, the migration crisis is still there and must be addressed internally and externally.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey