Greek islanders protest against camps

Opposition to overcrowded refugee camps is growing on Greece's Aegean Islands. On Wednesday, the inhabitants of Lesbos, Samos and Chios went on a general strike and thousands of people took to the streets demanding the immediate transfer of asylum seekers to other parts of the country. Commentators show understanding for the islanders' anger.

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Liberal (GR) /

Fear is in the air

The islanders are afraid of the refugees, news website Liberal suspects:

“They live next to people who don't earn a living, who are desperate, hungry and don't have a good life, and who come from foreign cultures. ... A 17-year-old Afghan woman is currently in critical condition in the hospital after being stabbed by an Afghan man. Two Africans died last week, also stabbed by Afghans. And since the beginning of the year more than ten people on the island have been victims of knife attacks. The islanders themselves report repeated thefts and burglaries in their homes. Who can blame them if they're scared?”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Row over asylum at the expense of the inhabitants

The protests on the Greek islands are all too understandable, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“The inhabitants are paying the price for what divides Europe. ... The Greek policy is a reflection of this dispute, which is not leading to fundamental improvements in asylum administration on the islands and on the mainland. But national efforts are needed to achieve a European asylum policy. ... It is to be feared that Greece is shying away from the expense of mass asylum procedures and is counting on a distribution being regulated before any serious attempt has been made to clarify the status of immigrants at the border. Athens and the EU are currently fighting this conflict out at the expense of the islanders.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

National solidarity needed

The government and the people must not leave the islanders to deal with the problems on their own, Kathimerini stresses:

“The Greek government's response to the accumulated indignation reflected in the large protest rallies on the islands cannot just be a demagogic appeasement involving conciliatory recognition that 'their anger is justified.' The proper response to this anger can only be the swift implementation of the government's announced policy to decongest the affected islands and speed up the asylum application process. Of course, this implementation presupposes that, in addition to the politicians, the message from the islands is also heard by the local communities on the Greek mainland where more migrant centres need to be set up. The antidote to anger is national solidarity.”