Around 2,000 migrants took to the streets on the Greek island of Lesbos, with some clashing with police, to protest the Greek government’s tougher migration policy.
The migrants, who are currently being housed at the Moria migrant camp, left the camp and travelled to the city of Mytilene. They rejected orders from the local police, claiming to be afraid they were going to be deported under the new migration policy.
The situation deteriorated after the migrants refused to follow police orders and led to officers deploying tear gas against the protesting asylum seekers, Belgian broadcaster RTBF reports.
Video footage captured by broadcaster Voice of America shows Greek police dispersing the migrants with tear gas as some attempt to throw the gas canisters back at the officers.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the restrictions on illegal migration in November; his centre-right government had come to power last July.
“We will permanently shut the door to illegal human traffickers, to those who want to enter although they are not entitled to asylum,” Mitsotakis said.
Among the new measures are plans to shut down camps like Moria on Lesbos due to massive overcrowding and replace the camps with new migrant centres as well as transfer around 20,000 migrants to the Greek mainland.
In total, around 32,000 migrants were said to live in camps on islands like Lesbos and Samos as of November of last year, despite the camps on the islands having the capacity for just 6,200.
Many charities and NGOs have also slammed the conditions in the camps which have led to riots and several deaths in recent years.
Greece Prepares for 100,000 Illegal Migrants in 2020 https://t.co/re3IDDcppc
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The more restrictive migrant policy comes as Greece expects a new surge in new arrivals this year. In December, Manos Logothetis, the government commissioner for the initial reception of refugees, predicted that the country could see as many as 100,000 new migrants in 2020.