Lesvos, Chios protests: Several injured – Government announces partial withdrawal of riot police

One person was arrested and 11 were brought in for identification at a police station on Chios island, following incidents begun when residents protesting the construction of migrant facilities stormed a hotel and clashed with riot police staying there.

According to Hellenic Police, the individual arrested is a 27-year-old man, while another has been identified as also responsible for the incident and is being sought. Nine police members were injured.
In incidents on Lesvos island, another 43 police and 10 civilians were injured, according to the Greek police.

After the extensive clashes between officers and islanders that left 62 people injured on the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Chios, the government announced on Wednesday that it is withdrawing most of the riot police units that were stationed there to counter fierce reaction to the creation of new, closed migrant camps.

Speaking to Newspaper “Kathimerini”, an official from the Ministry of Citizens’ Protection confirmed what government spokesman Stelios Petsas had said earlier on Wednesday to Alpha TV, that the decision to withdraw riot units was taken after the completion of the first phase of preparatory work for the construction of the centers.

The main protests took place in the areas of Diavolorema, Kavakli and Karava on Lesvos, where the government is expropriating land to build the centers.

During the clashes, locals hurled stones at police, who responded with tear gas, resulting in the injury of 43 officers and 10 islanders, according to the Hellenic Police (ELAS).

On Chios, local residents reportedly barged into a hotel near the construction site of a new camp and injured eight off-duty officers who were staying there.

Migration Minister

The disbelief of residents of Aegean islands in government policies on relieving the congested migrant hotspots is understandable, Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi said on Wednesday, calling for peace following “isolated events” on the islands that besmirch their good name.

Speaking at the board meeting of the Central Union of Greek Municipalities (KEDE) of the clashes on the islands of Lesvos and Chios with riot police over the construction of new migrant facilities, Mitarachi said “the islanders’ lack of faith is justified to a great degree” and their reactions are to be respected. “Unfortunately,” he said, “there are isolated incidents that taint the image of the islands and create an escalating tension that must be reduced within the next few hours.”

He also said that he was in constant communication with the local and regional authorities “to bring calmness to the islands.”