Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

Racist incidents against migrants in Greece rising

Government pledged to move 20,000 migrants from overcrowded island camps to mainland by end of year

A child holds a banner reading "Asylum and shelter for refugees" as an anti-racist group protests in solidarity with refugees and migrants outside the refugee's camp of Diavata, west of Thessaloniki, on Sunday. AFP
A child holds a banner reading "Asylum and shelter for refugees" as an anti-racist group protests in solidarity with refugees and migrants outside the refugee's camp of Diavata, west of Thessaloniki, on Sunday. AFP

Xenophobic and racist incidents against asylum seekers during their transfers to mainland Greece are on the rise, a monitoring group said on Monday.

Despite regular relocations to the mainland, more than 34,000 people are still living in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands that should hold only 6,300, while they register as asylum seekers.

The government pledged in October to move 20,000 of them to centres on the mainland before the end of the year.

But the UN-backed Racist Violence Recording Network said that racist attacks on the migrants had been increasing over recent weeks.

On Monday, more than 400 asylum seekers were transferred from Lesbos to mainland Greece.

Protests against the arrival of asylum seekers have been held in several towns in northern Greece.

In October, Greek media showed buses carrying asylum seekers in the northern town of Nea Vrasna being forced to turn back as dozens of villagers blocked the road, hurled stones and chanted "close the border".

A nationalist group in the village of Diavata invited locals to a barbecue with pork and alcohol in front of a refugee camp on Sunday.

"Any concerns of local communities should not be allowed to be exploited by organised racist groups," the RVRN said.

The charity also urges Greece to fully implement anti-racist legislation to send "a clear message that such actions are not tolerated in a country governed by the rule of law".

Updated: November 12, 2019 05:24 AM

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