Refugee children sit at the section for families in the Identification Center of Moria, Lesvos Island Credit: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou
Refugee children sit at the section for families in the Identification Center of Moria, Lesvos Island Credit: EPA/Orestis Panagiotou

A 78-year-old man from the village of Moria on the Greek island of Lesvos has been arrested and detained by local police on Wednesday for questioning over the shooting of a 16-year-old refugee boy from Syria. According to police, the 16-year-old migrant boy was submitted to the local hospital after suffering gunshot injuries to the head, legs and feet.

His condition is stable and the injuries are not life-threatening. Local media reports said the 78-year-old farmer told police that he intended only to fire warning shots close to the boy, who had entered the farmer's estate north of the refugee reception and identification center without permission, as he believed the teenager was trying to steal from him.

Local news reports on Wednesday said that the farmer has been the victim of several thefts in recent years and has also served jail time for murdering his wife. 'Because of locals' despair, incidents like this are inevitable' The Moria community leader Nikos Trakelellis, who recently staged a three-day hunger strike to protest the ongoing refugee crisis and the lack of government action to solve the problems, made a statement reminding authorities that "incidents like this are inevitable due to the total despair felt by many of the local population".He added that the state "must take immediate action before things get out of control." 

Acute discontent continues 

The notoriously overcrowded Moria camp has been a major concern for human rights groups, local residents and the migrants themselves for months, with frequent riots and clashes between rival ethnic groups of migrants, locals and police.Just 24 hours ago Greek police said that eight people were injured and 19 were arrested following the latest violent brawl at the camp.

Three tents were also set ablaze during the clashes, with police stepping in to disperse the fighting between rival groups that began late Monday and lasted for several hours.Lesvos is one of the five Greek Aegean islands closest to the coast of Turkey which are being used by the European Union to form a barrier to mass migration after more than a million people came through between 2015 and 2016. 

Migrant numbers on the island to be reduced In related developments, the number of refugees stranded on the five islands is set to drop from 17,000 to 10,000 by September, according to Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas.  Speaking to state-run broadcaster ERT last week, Vitsas commented that plans are afoot to further speed up asylum procedures, transport vulnerable refugees to the mainland, and return those who do not apply or qualify for asylum to Turkey. It is expected that through these methods, the number of refugees housed in the over-crowded Moria camp on Lesvos would fall from 7,000 to about half of that number. 

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