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Greek islanders take anti-camp protest to Athens

Greek islanders take anti-camp protest to Athens

AFP
Athens
Greek officials and residents from islands hosting thousands of asylum-seekers staged a protest in Athens on Thursday against plans to build new camps.
Dozens of demonstrators from the Aegean islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos gathered outside the interior ministry, brandishing banners against the camps project.
The new conservative government which came to power in July has announced that the present camps, which are stretched several times beyond capacity, are to shut down this year.
They are to be replaced with new, smaller facilities that are to be operational by mid-2020. But authorities and residents on the five Aegean islands with camp facilities, which include Leros and Kos, have opposed the initiative.
The islanders demand the immediate removal of most of the asylum-seekers and accuse the EU of abandoning them.
Some banners called for “illegal migrants” to be expelled and for the country’s borders to be closed. But some demonstrators chased off former deputies and senior figures in the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party after they joined the protest, an AFP journalist witnessed.
“If we accept a (new) camp for 7,000 people, unofficially it could be 20-25,000 people,” said Georgios Stantzos, the mayor of eastern Samos.
The ongoing deadlock, five years after the height of the migration crisis, has caused exasperation among both island residents and asylum-seekers.