Two migrants were shot and lightly injured after apparently breaking quarantine on Wednesday, reported news agencies. The assailant or assailants evaded capture, the police said.
Greek police said that gunshots were fired on Wednesday, April 22, into Greece’s largest migrant camp, Moria, on the Aegean island of Lesbos. According to reports in Greek newspaper Ekathimerini, the possible assailant or assailants "evaded capture."
shots took place as police had been called to quell demonstrations
taking place in and around the camp. Hundreds of mainly male migrant
protesters were angry that the Greek authorities were choosing to
transfer only a few thousand of the most vulnerable people out of the
camps to the mainland. The transfer was agreed upon in a bid to get the migrants out of infection's way should the
coronavirus spread through the overcrowded camps.
The protesters demanded that they too be transferred to less crowded facilities on the Greek mainland. According to the news agency dpa they held up placards demanding "freedom for all" and said that they were being "exposed to COVID-19."
The two migrants injured by the gunshots were taken to Lesbos' hospital "as a precaution," reported Ekahtimerini, adding that "no further detail was supplied."
Thursday morning, the news agency AFP reported that the injured
migrants came from Iran and Afghanistan respectively and were shot
because they were "openly trying to break the quarantine" and
lockdown measures imposed on inhabitants of the camp, as well as
residents throughout Greece.
However, later, dpa reported news from Greece's public broadcaster ERT, which quoted police sources which suggested the migrants had been shot about seven kilometers away from Moria, with a hunting rifle. The migrants, claimed another Greek website Stonisi, that they had been "going for a walk," when the incident occurred.
Although the motive for this attack has not been clarified, dpa also reported that in March anti-migrant extremists had been known to attack migrants and humanitarian workers on the island. They also said that theft had increased around the Moria camp in recent years and is often reported. Again though, there is no clear link to what the migrants may, or may not, have been doing when they were shot at.
organizations like the UN refugee agency UNHCR and Doctors without
Borders (MSF) have long warned that were the virus to take hold in
the overcrowded migrant camps, it would be a disaster, not just for
the camp's inhabitants, but also for the rest of Europe too. There are still more than 18,000 migrants present in and around Moria, in a camp which was originally conceived for about 6,000.
Fears of an outbreak in the camps
According to UNHCR data, there are still around 38,900 migrants and asylum seekers waiting on the Greek islands, most in conditions which have been described as "appalling," "unhygienic" and "inhumane." No new arrivals were registered last week, but fewer people are also being taken to the mainland than in the middle of March. Authorities plan to move around 1,500 of the most vulnerable on April 25 but tens of thousands remain.
In the last few months, Greek authorities have transferred around 11,000 of the most vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers off the islands. The majority of those had the best chance of gaining asylum in Greece or the rest of the EU.
The make-up of the migrant population on the
islands is now overwhelmingly people coming from Afghanistan (49%),
Syria (19%) and Somalia (6%). Around 44% of the adult migrant population
are male, with just 23% female. A further 19% are made up of boys
and 14% girls.
week Luxembourg and Germany began transferring small groups of
unaccompanied children from the islands to their countries. Further
transfers are planned, in the coming weeks and months, to a total of
eight EU countries who have pledged to help.