Refugee children playing outside their tent in a makeshift camp that is set outside the refugee camp of Moria, on the Lesvos island, Greece. Credit: EPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU
Refugee children playing outside their tent in a makeshift camp that is set outside the refugee camp of Moria, on the Lesvos island, Greece. Credit: EPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

An overcrowded refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos has once again witnessed violence between groups of refugees. After Kurdish-Arab tensions rose in late May, clashes between Africans and Syrians have now led to several people being hospitalized.

Tensions at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos remain sky-high on Thursday after another night of rioting and clashes between various ethnic groups and police resulted in four people being hospitalized.

Recent fighting between Syrian Arabs and Kurds prompted an estimated 1,000 mostly Kurds to flee the camp. Local reports say the same group of Syrians attacked African migrants as violent clashes ensued. Police said that the attacks began early in the morning when a group of Syrians pelted the Africans with rocks. The clashes turned ugly and petrol bombs were used into the evening before police took control.

Terrible timing

The attacks could not have come at a worse time with authorities already busy negotiating with the heads of the Kurdish community in an attempt to convince the estimated 1,000 mostly Kurds to return to the Moria camp following riots on May 25. The Kurds have now been told to return to Moria or face deportation. The refugees who have not yet returned to Moria also risk losing their food and financial allowances as well as their appointments with the asylum service.

Of the 1,000 mostly Kurds who fled, 600 were taken in by a makeshift camp in the Larsos area in the Gulf of Gera, while another 300 were taken to the former PIKPA children's camps - which are managed by the municipal non-profit society "Solidarity of Lesbos." The remaining refugees have fled to various parts of the island, erecting makeshift shelters. 

These developments have caused widespread protests from the municipality of Lesbos, with bodies such as the Hotelier Association and the Chamber of Commerce, who denounce the "illegal creation of new structures," fearing that these temporary settlements might become permanent.

Refugees take part in reforestation project

It is not all bad news from Lesbos, however: 36 refugees took part in a reforestation project at the Charamida forest, which has been damaged by bush fires. In an initiative by "Coexistence Today" the migrants - mainly children and teenagers - helped plant seeds, trees and shrubs with the loval forest ranger and support staff.
 

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