“They should leave”: Greek towns protest against migrant relocation

Protestors around Greece demonstrated against the relocation of migrants from the Greek islands to the mainland on 3 November. The largest crowd was made up of around 100 people in Thessaloniki, though a counter-protest drew a larger crowd. 

Residents of Yannitsa and Serres also took to the streets in an attempt to prevent the arrival of 60 migrants from the islands of Lesbos and Samos. Migrants arriving on buses were eventually able to reach their hotel while police observed the situation. 

“They should leave. We have had enough,” said an inhabitant of Yannitsa. Another resident explained the anti-migration sentiment by saying, “we have had many problems.” 

On the same day, another protest was held in Serres against the arrival of around 20 migrants. 

Ten days prior to the protests, residents from Nea Vrasna threw stones at buses carrying 380 asylum-seekers, preventing them from reaching their hotels and forcing the buses to reroute to a different migrant relocation site. 

These relocations are part of an ongoing plan to transfer at least 20,000 migrants from overcrowded camps on the Greek islands to sites around the mainland.

The Greek authorities hope these moves will ease the miserable situation on the islands. More than 34,000 migrants currently awaiting asylum procedures live in horrible conditions on five islands which only have capacity to host 6,300 people.

According to data from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 37% of the migrants on the islands are from Afghanistan, 19% from Syria, and 8% are from Iraq. 

Greece has received a huge influx of migrants arriving from Turkey over the Aegean Sea. In the past four months alone, “40,000 migrants and refugees have arrived,” according to Giorgos Koumoutsakos, Greece’s Alternate Minister of Citizen Protection.

TMP 13/11/2019

Photo credit: Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock

Photo caption: Thessaloniki, Greece – April 5, 2019: Migrants clashes with Greek riot police outside of a refugee camp in Diavata. Migrants and refugees gathered to walk to the border of Greece to pass to Europe