(Chios, Greece) – Several migrants living in the refugee camp in Chios lit tents on fire and threatened children’s lives in order to protest the fact that they are being held where they are until their asylum applications are reviewed. The camp, which is currently the home of around 1500 migrants, has had a history of unrest and violence. Police have arrested several people in connection to the riots and witnesses estimate that about 40 people have participated in the riots. In addition to burning tents, they also vandalized other areas of the camp. Greek authorities have said that it took them several hours to restore order to the camp. Although there are around 1500 people at that particular camp, the number of migrants living on the island as a whole is around 8500.
Rather than get deported back to Turkey, many of the migrants have chosen to wait in the camps and apply for asylum in Greece. The Greek government, however, has a backlog and there is a wait time of several months or more before each individual case is reviewed. Another cause of frustration amongst the migrants that have chosen to stay is that once they apply for asylum, they are unable to leave Greece. Many aren’t even allowed to leave Chios. To add to the problem, hundreds of refugees applied for asylum at once as news of possible deportation hit the camps and this further added to the government’s backlog.
There has been a history of violence amongst migrant camps throughout Europe. Not only that, but children have also been put into harms way in the past. Back in April when news that the Macedonian border was being closed hit, migrants placed children on train tracks as an act of protest. The Idomeni Camp is now closed and many of the migrants have been shipped to state-run camps.