Protestors in northern Greece have stopped a group of asylum seekers from reaching new accommodation. The migrants had been brought to the mainland from Lesbos as part of the government’s plan to ease overcrowding on the Aegean islands.
Police said Wednesday that about 150 protestors prevented buses carrying a group of asylum seekers from reaching a rented hotel where they were supposed to be housed in Panagitsa in the northern region of Pella. The group of 57 migrants were being relocated to the mainland from Lesbos.
The protestors threw stones and other objects, as well as blocking the road. Early on Tuesday they set fire to a room on the hotel’s ground floor. There were no arrests, according to Associated Press.
In Greece, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Social distancing rules are also in place.
The buses carrying the asylum seekers were rerouted to Arnissa village in the Pella region. Around 250 protestors there had set up roadblocks to stop them from reaching a local hotel. They attacked the hotel owners and threw stones at the hotel building, the news agency ANA-MPA reports.
The asylum seekers were eventually driven to a hotel in Halkidona in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
Dimitris Giannou, the mayor of Edessa, capital of the Pella region, condemned the actions, saying they had nothing to do with the migration issue. "Such actions do not express the majority of the people in the region," Giannou added, according to the Athens Macedonian News Agency.
AP reports that smaller protests were also held in the northern region of Kilkis, as 250 asylum seekers from Lesbos were transferred to a hotel already accommodating migrants, authorities said.
Greece has been moving asylum seekers to the mainland from badly overcrowded and unsanitary camps on the Aegean islands. Because of lockdown measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, new arrivals are not allowed into the camps.
•••• ➤ Also read: Almost 400 migrants moved from Lesbos to Greek mainlandWith Associated Press, ANA-MPA