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Greek police use tear gas against migrants

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At a demonstration against the tightening of asylum law in Greece, the police on the island of Lesbos today used tear gas against migrants and refugees. Two special police units blocked the way for the demonstrators after they had covered a distance of around seven kilometers from the Moria refugee camp to the port of the island’s capital, Mytilini, according to police circles.

Around 2,000 people demanded that their asylum applications be processed and protested against the inhumane conditions in the crowded Moria camp. Among other things, they held up posters that read “Freedom”.

Hopelessly crowded camps

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Greece was again the main country of arrival of migrants and refugees in Europe last year. More than 40,000 people are currently in overcrowded refugee camps on the Greek Aegean Islands. Actually, these camps only have capacities for around 6,200 people. Aid organizations have repeatedly criticized the situation there as inhumane.

Given the large number of refugees who had arrived in Turkey from the Greek islands in recent months, the conservative government in Athens passed a law that came into force in January. It sets short and limited deadlines for examining asylum applications to speed up the return of people who „do not need international protection“ or whose asylum applications have been rejected.

Tens of thousands of people who arrived in Greek camps before January criticize the long delays in processing their asylum applications, which prevent them from leaving the islands.