Violent protests on Lesbos: how will Athens react?

More than 19,500 peope currently live in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, which was designed to hold 2840 people. On Monday and Tuesday hundreds of them marched in protest in the island's capital Mytilene, demanding to be transferred to the mainland.

Open/close all quotes (GR) /

NGOs being used as scapegoats

The parliament in Athens decided on Tuesday that NGOs dealing with the situation of asylum seekers should be subject to stricter controls in the future. Protagon believes they are being unfairly blamed for the protests:

“The incidents are due to the terrible living conditions, poof planning and the EU's agreement with Turkey, which makes it difficult or impossible for the refugees to be returned [to Turkey]. Clearly there will be no relief for the islands unless these people are distributed throughout the country. Some say the inhumane conditions on the islands act as a deterrent to those on the Turkish coast who are thinking of boarding a boat. ... However, if this situation continues we'll be counting corpses before long.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

Perverse scare tactics don't work

These protests are a warning, Efimerida ton Syntakton comments:

“If the government does not change its thinking and tactics very soon, things will get out of control. And no one can say they didn't know what was going on. ... Our leaders need to quickly start realising that their tactic of packing more and more people [into already crammed camps] until life becomes unbearable and others stop coming is not working and is only creating an explosive situation on the islands.”

To Vima (GR) /

Government must listen to local authorities

The problem has become a ticking time bomb, To Vima writes:

“It depends on how the people of Lesbos react, but the situation threatens to spiral out of control. ... That the events are taking place in key areas along the country's eastern border only complicates the matter. ... The government must respond to the pleas of the local authorities and rapidly push through the plans they put in place to stop the problem spreading elsewhere. Deportations, relocations [to other EU countries], repatriations and other appropriate legal measures must be implemented with due care and attention. The risk is greater than it is currently being portrayed as.”