The Greek government has rushed in extra riot police to Lesvos amid warnings of potentially explosive tensions on the island following clashes between thousands of migrants and police.
Hundreds of mainly Afghan migrants made their way to the centre of the island on Tuesday to protest against conditions in the overcrowded camp.
“It’s a powder keg ready to explode,” Kostas Moutzouris, the Northern Aegean regional governor, told Skai TV. “Yesterday I was not just afraid, I was shaking at the idea of where the situation could end up,” he said, referring to Monday’s violent protests in which riot police were required to use teargas to disperse the crowd.
“Things have reached a limit, especially on Lesbos where we have 25,000 migrants,” said Moutzouris.
At Moutzouris’s request, the government agreed to dispatch a further two riot police units in addition to extra squads that were ordered in on Sunday. The reinforcements were expected to strengthen patrols around the migrant camp outside the hilltop village of Moria once they arrive late on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lesvos local residents rallied outside a government building to protest against having the camps on the island.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Tuesday the protests underscored the state’s duty to protect its citizens and the need to implement new policies.
Greece has adopted a tougher stance on migration since new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis came to power in July. The government wants to set up detentions centers and deport those whose asylum requests are being rejected.
“Some people may not like it but they need to understand it: The policy has changed,” Petsas told reporters.
*Main source: Reuters
*Image: In Time Greece