Violence on Greek Island Escalating as Turkish Gates Remain Open

A volunteer teacher takes pictures on March 8, 2020 in the rubbles of the school building

Violent incidents, mostly directed at pro-migration NGOs, have escalated on the Greek island of Lesbos in recent days as Turkey refuses to close the gates to Europe.

On Saturday, local residents of Lesbos set fire to a migrant reception centre managed by the Swiss NGO One Happy Family.

The NGO claimed that while there had been serious damage to the reception facility, they did not report any serious injuries or casualties to their staff or to any migrants, according to a report from Franceinfo.

The attack comes just a day after two residents of Lesbos were handed down three-month suspended prison sentences for threats and violence toward pro-migration NGO activists and journalists following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opening the gates to Europe.

Konstantinos Alvanopoulos, one of the men convicted by the court, defended his actions saying in comments reported by Le Figaro: ” I will continue to defend my homeland as a Greek. Most of the NGOs here operate like spies. These gangsters must leave the island.”

“We did not intend to threaten the life of anyone,” he added. The lawyer for the two men said both parties had reached an amicable resolution to the issue which involved a public apology by the two men.

Efi Latsoudim, whose NGO Lesbos Solidarity runs the Pikpa migrant camp, claimed that two cars belonging to her group had been vandalised over the weekend by angry locals and other groups of residents had threatened and intimidated aid groups and others.

The attacks have led some NGOs to abandon their work on the island entirely, including the group Refocus, which is led by Douglas Herman.

Last week, Herman accused “fascist gangs” of being behind the attacks and had ordered his volunteers and staff to leave the island over safety concerns.

Violence between different groups of migrants was also reported in recent days, including an incident between a 21-year-old and a 19-year-old migrant in which the elder migrant stabbed the teen with a sharp object, resulting in him being hospitalised.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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