- Overcrowded camps have been set ablaze as migrants grow frustrated that they are being stopped from continuing to Europe
- Camp on island of Chios was torched after migrants accused of theft
- Belgian migration secretary said it is not safe for his staff to process asylum applications any longer
Belgium’s migration secretary Theo Francken said it was no longer safe for his staff to help process asylum applications
Overcrowded camps have been set ablaze as the inhabitants grow frustrated that they are being stopped from continuing to Europe.
Belgium has repatriated asylum staff deployed to help Greece after they were aggressively targeted by those seeking refuge.
In the latest chaos, a camp on the island of Chios was torched after police accused migrants of stealing fireworks and alcohol from local shops.
Since March, new arrivals from Turkey have been stopped from crossing to the Greek mainland from the popular holiday destinations such as Lesbos and Kos.
Belgium’s migration secretary Theo Francken said it was no longer safe for his staff to help process asylum applications and conduct interviews there because of growing hostility.
At one time the country had several dozen experts assisting the Greek authorities on the islands.
He told Belgian newspaper De Standaard: ‘The security situation has worsened. The atmosphere is particularly grim because asylum seekers, often single men, are stuck there and realise they cannot journey on to Germany or Belgium.
‘Some express their frustrations in a particularly aggressive fashion. In recent days asylum agency staff have been targeted.’
The Secretary of State repatriated his staff and said he was unwilling to take more risks to the safety of his staff
Mr Francken said he was unwilling to take any more risks: ‘We would like to show our solidarity with the people of Greece, but the safety of our staff is our priority.
‘The Greek authorities must take action. I warned them several months ago. They have done too little.’
Greek police detained 37 migrants during unrest on Chios last week. The trouble is reported to have started when migrants looted two stores and set off stolen fireworks near a camp.
Officers claimed around 100 migrants then blocked a nearby road before throwing rocks and fireworks at police.
However, aid workers claim the migrants had been goaded into causing trouble by far-right extremists.
Riot officers were then sent to restore order in the camp that has had riots and fires three times in the past month.
Thousands of migrants and refugees walk through the port of Piraeus after arriving from the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios in February this year
On the island of Lesbos the office of the European asylum agency has also been torched.
More than 51,000 migrants are currently stranded in Greece, according to figures from the UN’s refugee agency.
Around 16,000 are stuck on the islands, even though there is only accommodation for around 8,000 in migrant camps.
Chios currently has 4,143 migrants despite having just 1,100 places for them. Lesbos has 6,142 even though its capacity is 3,500.
Arrivals on the Greek islands have fallen sharply since the EU signed a £5billion deal with Turkey in March to curb the influx.
Under the agreement, Turkey is supposed to take back any newcomers to the islands, however, there are concerns that it could collapse.
MEPs will vote on Thursday whether to suspend talks on Turkey becoming an EU member, which could lead to the deal falling apart.
According to the UN, 1,490 migrants have landed on the islands so far this month, compared to 151,249 in November 2015.