Thursday

27th Apr 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.

Feature

Samos: Inside Greece's 'nightmare' EU hotspot

Asylum centres on the Greek islands have borne the brunt of implementing the EU-Turkey deal. The centre on Samos island has struggled more than the others.

Children's rights at risk in EU hotspots

Lack of lawyers and other staff has caused logjams on asylum claims, which particularly hurt children, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency told MEPs.

Fewer refugees to be relocated as EU revises targets

An initial plan to relocate 160,000, which was later amended to 98,000, now appears to drop even further after the European Commission said the new objective was to dispatch only eligible asylum seekers from Italy and Greece.

EU stands aside as Hungary detains migrants

Commission is withholding action on Hungary's detention of asylum seekers, even as the Hungarian government tries to "stop Brussels" on immigration policy.

Austria wants out of EU migrant relocations

Austria is required to start relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece after an exemption to the scheme ended on 11 March. But Austria's chancellor has other ideas and wants the exemption prolonged.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament moves to lift Le Pen's immunity
  2. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  3. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  4. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  5. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  6. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  7. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  8. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. EU starts legal action against Hungary
  2. Brexit is about Europe's future as well
  3. Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care
  4. Nordic and Baltic countries step up digitalisation efforts
  5. European states still top media freedom list
  6. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  7. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  8. Orban set to face down EU threats