Greek police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of angry residents who attempted to halt the construction of a migrant detention center on the island of Lesbos. The clashes came amid growing anger over Athens’ immigration policy.
Around 500 people attempted to block the unloading of heavy machinery and police reinforcements on the island, which will house a new migrant camp. Locals set fires and brawled with riot cops as police attempted to restore order, according to local media.
Photographs taken at the scene show demonstrators armed with large sticks skirmishing with police. Other photos show protesters fleeing as the police fired tear gas.
Clashes also broke out at the port of Mesto in Chios, where police reinforcements disembarked as they headed to Lesbos. Dramatic video of the fighting shows dozens of protesters hurling objects at the riot police, which used tear gas to scatter the mob.
The proposed migrant center will replace the current camp on the island – a large, open-access facility intended for less than 3,000 people, but which currently houses more than 18,000 migrants. The Greek government is moving forward with plans to build detention facilities on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros.
Thousands of migrants are waiting on the islands for their asylum applications to be processed, most of them in overcrowded camps known as reception centers. Migrants on the island of Lesbos protested last week against poor living conditions, and residents of the island took to the streets demanding the reception facilities close, Reuters reported.
Lesbos residents have repeatedly protested against the migrant camp on their island, citing overcrowding and safety concerns. Last month, most stores and public services shut down for a day as part of a protest against the government’s handling of asylum seekers.
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