Over a dozen migrants were hurt yesterday during a brawl in the main detention camp on the Greek island of Lesbos that saw nearly 30 tents torched, an AFP correspondent said.
Hundreds of people – mainly families with children – were evacuated from the camp during the night as rival groups of Afghans and Pakistanis fought brutally with clubs and stones. Three of the injured – two Pakistanis and an Afghan – were hospitalized, two for head injuries.
"There was a clash between migrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan late on Wednesday, in which three people were seriously hurt and were taken to hospital by ambulance," a local police source told AFP. Government officials could not be reached for comment.
There were nearly 3,000 people in the Moria camp at the time of the clash. Nearly a thousand have now left, seeking refuge in the surrounding fields and another migrant camp, according to an AFP correspondent.
A spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency on the island, Boris Cheshirkov, confirmed the incident, but said the situation was "back to normal" on Thursday.
Lesbos Mayor Spyros Galinos said anxiety has increased among migrants who have been detained for months and face deportation to their home countries, from which they have spent a small fortune to escape. "The conditions are psychologically and physically exhausting... and breed exasperation," he told AFP.
There are an estimated 8,500 refugees and migrants held in special-purpose facilities on Greek islands, where they landed earlier this year. They are detained for a maximum of 25 days. After that, they are allowed to leave the camps but are required to stay on the islands until their asylum applications are processed. No migrants have been able to leave Greece after the Balkan states began shutting their borders in February to stem an exodus of thousands to northern Europe. As a result, over 50,000 people have become trapped in Greece, most of them in overcrowded camps whose poor living conditions have frequently been criticized by rights groups.