Greek police fire tear gas at protesting migrants on Lesbos

Refugees and migrants flee as tear gas is fired by riot police during clashes on Lesbos on September 12.
Lesbos, Greece CNN  — 

Police on the Greek island of Lesbos fired tear gas at a group of migrants on Saturday protesting against a new camp being set up to replace one destroyed this week by fire, according to police.

Migrants had been protesting along the main road connecting the island town of Mytilene and the location of the new camp, which is due to be set up by the authorities after the Moria camp was razed earlier this week.

Greek police confirmed the use of tear gas to disperse protesters, saying Saturday, “Small scale clashes between police and protesting migrants took place earlier today.”

About 300 migrants were rehoused to a new camp Saturday, police said.

A journalist on the ground said the migrants were frustrated with being in refugee camps and want to leave the island, but the Greek government said on Friday they would “not be blackmailed” into relocating them.

Greek authorities said the fires at Moria appeared to have been deliberately lit after quarantine rules were imposed on residents who had tested positive for coronavirus at Europe’s largest refugee camp.

One protester had been affected by the teargas and was shouting angrily about her treatment in the camp.

The migrants were chanting “Freedom!” and holding placards that read “no tent, no Lesbos, no Greece,” “we need peace and freedom” and “Moria Kills All Lives.”

Tensions come after four days since fires tore through Moria, Europe’s largest refugee camp, displacing 13,000 people including thousands of children.

Refugees from the camp have been left homeless and hungry after the fires, with some sleeping at roadsides and gas stations while dozens of families took refuge in a nearby cemetery.

Director of the Greek Migration Minister’s office, Konstantinos Kostakos, said authorities would temporarily relocate about 1,000 migrants – particularly those in vulnerable groups – onto a ship that has docked at Sigri, on the western side of the island.