Syrian hurt in attack at Greek island refugee camp


Athens (AFP)

A Syrian refugee was seriously hurt and others left without shelter when assailants wielding rocks and firebombs targeted a migrant camp on the Greek island of Chios, officials said Friday.

The attacks were among several incidents at the Souda camp just days after lawmakers from the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn visited Chios.

The man "was hurt when unknown assailants threw a large rock" from atop a medieval fort overlooking the camp early on Friday, UN refugee spokesman Roland Schoenbauer told AFP.

Firebombs were also lobbed into the camp late Thursday and two volunteers were beaten up, police said, after initially declining to confirm the incident.

Schoenbauer said that the ensuing fire destroyed several tents, leaving around 100 of the camp's 800 residents exposed to the elements.

A group of 30 assailants then beat up the two volunteers helping at the camp, ANA said.

In a later statement, the UN refugee agency expressed "serious concern" about the incident and called on Greek authorities to bolster security around the site.

"UNHCR calls on the authorities to prevent any future acts of violence by reinforcing security in and around the site," the agency said.

But Chios Mayor Manolis Vournous, whose staff help run the site, said he wanted Souda to close immediately.

"These people must be relocated from Chios," the mayor told Skai TV. "The Souda camp must close tonight."

Another local official speaking on condition of anonymity said the island was "seething" over the presence of around 4,000 refugees and migrants.

"We cannot exclude that far-right groups are seeking to exploit local anger," the official told AFP.

Tempers also flared the previous evening after groups of migrants broke into a spirits merchant and stole fireworks from another shop.

According to police, they then set the fireworks off, targeting local homes and cars.

Three Algerian teenagers and an Iraqi in his forties were arrested over the incident.

According to Greek media, Thursday's attack was a reprisal.

The situation on Chios is similar on other eastern Greek isles sheltering over 16,000 migrants and refugees who are unable to continue their journey to north and western Europe.

The island camps have a nominal capacity of fewer than 7,500.

And despite promises to help Greece resolve a huge backlog of refugee asylum claims, fellow EU states have not sent the experts originally promised.

Local governor Christiana Kalogirou on Friday told Skai only 30 EU asylum experts had joined her team out of 400 pledged.

"There is pent-up fatigue and tension that can lead to violence... right now only 20-30 asylum claims can be examined each day," she said.

"On all the island, we see that people are desperate and disappointed," Schoenbauer said.