Afghan and Pakistani migrants have fought each other, rioted and burnt down brand new accommodation on the Greek Island of Lesbos after the two ethnic groups accused each other of molesting children and stealing.
The violence and destruction on Thursday night left more that 70 people injured and hundreds without shelter. According to Ekathimerini, the conflict was driven by ethnic tension.
Some migrants wielded knives and iron bars, it was also reported.
Pakistani migrants allegedly accused the Afghans of attempting to take control of the camp. The Afghans, meanwhile, claimed the Pakistanis were stealing food and sexually harassing children and women in toilets and bathrooms.
The toilets in the northeastern corner of the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos are said to have become a dangerous place for women and children, as the already struggling facility continues to fill up.
Following the riots, three people were transferred to a local hospital and many more were treated in situ. Hundreds of migrants also left the camp to spend the night elsewhere on the Island.
The island’s mayor, Spyros Galinos, told Kathimerini that such conflict was likely to be repeated.
“There’s a lot of irritability in the Moria center,” he said. Adding: “Those who are in there are exhausted. We warned the government about this a while ago”.
Mr. Galinos also expressed fears about local residents reacting negatively to such incidents, noting that recent thefts in the area had created bad feeling.
“It would be a mistake for such upheaval to lead to Lesbos and Greece losing the face of solidarity they have shown,” he said.
In late March, Ankara and Brussels agreed to close the so-called Balkan route, along which during the past year over one million migrants traveled through Greece on to the other European Union (EU) member states in the north.
According to the agreement, Turkey pledged to take back all “irregular” migrants crossing into the EU from its borders. For every Syrian returned, however, the EU will take one from a camp in Turkey
Those who continue to cross are now held at the new camps around Greece, before being returned to Turkey. The majority of those held and returned so far are from countries that are not considered to be at war, like Pakistan.
Brussels will provide €3 billion in aid to Ankara for the more than two million Syrian migrants residing in Turkey, with the option to increase aid by an additional €3 billion.
Turkey also expects visa liberalisation for its 80 million citizens traveling within the EU by June and fast-tracked accession into the EU, one of its long-standing goals.