On the island of Lesvos, hundreds of migrants attempted to get on board of a ferry without the necessary papers, clashes erupted between security units and the angry people. In Kos, a mob of angry residents hurled tomatoes and eggs, swore and booed the EU Migration Commissioner Avramopoulso and EC Vice Timmermans as they visited the island to see the refugee crisis with their own eyes.
With several thousands of refugees and migrants to have stranded and been trapped on the Greek islands, the situation gets occasionally out of control, as desperate refugees living in appalling conditions try to move further to Europe, local communities to be divided in ‘activists’ and ‘xenophobic’ fronts, while the state and local authorities seem endlessly overwhelmed with the situation.
Lesvos: angry Afghans try to get on ferry board
Dramatic scenes erupted at the port of Mytilene on the island of Lesvos on Friday morning, when several hundred migrants from Afghanistan tried to get on board of the ferry Blue Star 1. The Coast Guard stepped in and fired stun grenades, violent clashes erupted and the ferry crew shut the doors as horrified passengers were trying to get on board.
According to Greek media, the migrants were shouting “Athens, Athens” in outrage for having to wait for days or even weeks on an island that has to supply several thousands of stranded people with very limited means.
Injured people were taken to the local hospital by other refugees, migrants and members of international medical organizations.
The port area was closed and some “10,000 refugees and migrants were forced to move to other provisional camps or to areas without any infrastructure,” so Athens News Agency.
The mayor of Lesvos had appealed on Thursday to authorities to declare “state of emergency” on the island.
Target of thousands of refugees arriving daily from the nearby shores of Turkey, Greece seems unable to tackle the refugee crisis. Much too many institutions are involved, there is little or bad coordination, lack of funds and personnel, absence of formal reception facilities.
Greek and foreigner activists helping refugees – via @teacherdude
The stranded have to wait for weeks to be able to register, possibly get papers and continue their way to mainland and from there to other European countries and cities, to relatives and friends.
Trying to register….
Refugees at the port of Lesvos
With a very basic infrastructure offered to them by the Greek state, babies, children, women, men and seniors mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are only able to survive due to the help they receive by the many Greek and foreign volunteers.
The majority of the refugees cannot afford to pay for accommodation and in best case, they sleep in tents out in the open.
Municipal municipal authorities offer very little assistance.
Thousands of refugees have stranded in Greece, more than 230,000 people are estimated to have put step on the islands in the Aegean Sea since the beginning of the year. It seems that there has been no official data as to how many of them are still in Greece or have left.
Kos: “hellish living conditions” and attacks by xenophobic “thugs”
Many activists reported on Thursday night of “a violent attack on refugees” by a group of 15-25 people brandishing bats physically attack refugees on Kos, while shouting “go back to your countries” and other slurs. They also threatened activists, including an Amnesty International staff member. An activist who was taking photographs had her camera removed and suffered minor injuries. Police did not stop them and riot police only intervened after the physical attacks had started and used teargas to disperse the crowd.”
Some believe that the ‘thugs’ were affiliated with far-right and racist Golden Dawn whose members have been on the island of Kos in the last few weeks trying to exploit the refugees crisis and chase the votes of some exhausted residents in the upcoming snap elections on September 20th.
Among others, Amnesty International documented the overall dire conditions refugees face on the island. Researchers found children as young as a week old among the crowds forced to wait for days in baking heat to be registered by the local authorities, and interviewed unaccompanied minors being detained in deplorable conditions alongside adults.
“The refugees we met on Kos have fled war and persecution in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. They include children, some with their families but others traveling alone. The hellish conditions the refugees are now forced to endure and the official indifference to their plight are appalling,” said Kondylia Gogou, Greece Researcher at Amnesty International, who just returned from Kos.
Kos: Mob harasses EU Commissioner & EC Vice-president
EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos and European Commission Vice-President Franz Timmermans arrived on the island of Kos on to see the humanitarian and refugee crisis with their own eyes, as well as to announce some measures to tackle the crisis.
However, a group of allegedly angry residents had gathered outside the Municipality building and started to boo and swear at the EU officials as soon as their car arrived. Some tomatoes and raw eggs flew through the air.
Video: Several voices are heard to shout “traitors”, “shoo!”, “get them to your home,” and other words I cannot write down here.
During a press conference Dimitris Avramopoulos stressed the need to welcome these people “with respect and dignity” and urged for better cooperation between the state and the municipalities.
About the funds debt- and austerity-ridden Greece needs urgently to cope with the refugee crisis and manage the refugees flow, Avramopoulos said that “it is imperative to complete the establishment of the competent administrative authority” and thus “to start immediately, on the same day” so that the country can directly receive “a first disbursement of 30 million euro.”
A few weeks ago, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had promised to release EU Funds for the refugees totaling €450 million for the next six years, today the EU announce to relocate 120,000 refugees from Greece, Italy and Hungary to other EU countries. THe EU plans also to establish a list of so-called “safe countries” a proposal tabled by German conservatives.
Greek interim government announced on Tuesday a series of measures to tackle the refugees crisis.
The question is when all these measures announced either by Greece or by the EU will materialize.
PS Measures we hear, deeds we don’t see. There are thousands of proposals out there all with the title “what to do with the refugee crisis.”