Chaos on Chios: Tensions Rising as More Migrants Arrive and Fights Break Out in Camps

The Greek island of Chios is still experiencing new migrant arrivals despite the EU-Turkey migrant deal that is in place.

Tensions on the island between locals and migrants have been rising over the past few months as residents on the island have reported that fights among different migrant groups in the reception centers are almost daily, ekathimerini.com says. Also, protests by residents against building new migrant pre-departure centers on the island has resulted in the existing camps becoming even more overcrowded.

One of the latest incidences that escalated to a full-blown brawl involving over 60 migrants occurred on Tuesday at the Vial reception center where two small groups initiated the confrontation by throwing rocks at each other. Soon after the confrontation started, over 60 people became involved, the Greek riot police were called and broke up the fight.

According to ekathimerini.com, sources at Citizens’ Protection Ministry have pointed out that one of the main problems facing Chios is the fact that they are receiving a substantial amount of new arrivals to the island because it is lacking the so-called “pre-departure” center, which is where migrants who have had their asylum request to stay in the EU rejected would be sent prior to being returned to Turkey under the EU-Turkey migrant deal. This week alone around 200 new migrants arrived on Chios, according to government figures.

Also not helping the situation is that since the beginning of the year, there has been a significant number of new arrivals on the Aegean islands from countries without a refugee profile such as Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan and Bangladesh the Citizens’ Protection Ministry said earlier this year. This means that the process for sending migrants back to Turkey who arrive in Chios and have their asylum rejected is not being promptly executed.

If the pre-departure camps were to be crested on Chios, they would be closed-structure facilities, much like detention centers, with a capacity of around 150-200 people. Officials believe that such camps would help relieve some of the pressure on the Aegean islands’ migrant camps which have been operating at over capacity for some time.

During a tour of the Aegean islands in February, Maarten Verwey, the EU’s special envoy on migration said that the detention facilities would be “temporary.”