Migrants protesting their long stay at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos set fire to asylum service buildings Monday, forcing government workers out of their offices, according to media reports. Greek police officials worked to stabilize the rioting crowds while a local fire brigade fought the flames.
The large group of protesting migrants was predominately from Pakistan, Athen News Agency reported. There are approximately 60,000 migrants living in refugee camps in Greece. European Parliament Vice President Dimitrios Papadimoulis recently said about 6,000 of the refugees live in Lesbos, which is a stopping post for migrants heading to Europe by crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey. People who arrived in Lesbos after March 20 were supposed to be transported back to Turkey after a deal was made between Brussels and Ankara. However, thousands of refugees have found themselves stuck in Greece in camps as Turkish and European Union officials continue to work on the final details of the deal.
The asylum service building fires were the latest round of demonstrations surrounding the migrant crisis in Lesbos. Migrants and local Greek residents flooded city streets Tuesday as protestors demanded the removal of refugee camps from the area and called for migrants to return back to their respective country.
Other European cities have also grappled with protests over refugees in recent days. Thousands of people stomped through Stockholm’s city center Saturday in protest of strict new laws Sweden is placing on asylum seekers. The protesters called for an end of the harsh conditions refugees can face in the country, which reportedly include forced deportation, random border checks and minor asylum seekers being made to prove their age.
Back in July, Sweden passed legislation allowing refugees a three-year residency permit. More than 160,000 refugees found asylum in the country in 2015, according to reports. The Swedish government has sought to reduce the number of migrants coming to Sweden from the Middle East.