EU wants to get children out of camps: German neo-Nazis sighted on Lesbos

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Since Turkey opened its border to refugees, the mood on the Greek islands has turned into open hostility. There are attacks on Lesbos. Now reporters report that neo-Nazis from Germany and France are on the island.

According to eyewitness reports, right-wing radicals from Germany and France have arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos. These wanted, as they say, to work alongside the Greeks to secure the EU borders against illegally entering migrants. Some of them – all German – had been spotted and photographed by reporters from the local news portal “sto nisi”. An unknown and presumably leftist man attacked one of the Germans in the shopping mile of the island capital and injured his head, the portal reported and published photos.

Some eyewitnesses commented on the event on Twitter. Other Greek media reported that French right-wing radicals had also arrived in Greece. The Lesbos police have not yet commented on this.

More than 100 migrants have been waiting on the small Greek island of Kastelorizo for several days. “We are only a few hundred inhabitants here. We can neither feed nor shelter these refugees”, said Evdokia Karpathiou, an employee of the mayor of Kastelorizo. “The situation is dramatic. We do not know what to do with these people.”

The migrants had crossed the strait, which is only about three kilometres wide, between the Turkish coast near the seaside resort of Kas and the small island. They arrived in Kastelorizo on March 1 after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the borders with the EU were open, Karpathiou said. Among the migrants were also many children. They were looking for accommodation in abandoned houses or spent the night in the open. Help from other islands is already on its way, Greek media reported. Kastelorizo is about four hours’ ferry ride from the tourist island of Rhodes.

EU Commission discusses help for unaccompanied refugees

EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson will discuss solutions for unaccompanied refugee children on the Greek islands with the government in Athens next week. According to the EU Commission, one of the issues at stake is the onward journey of the children to member states that are willing to accept young migrants. On the other hand, permanent solutions are to be found for those unaccompanied migrant children who stay in Greece. The Commission promised Greece and the other EU states increased financial and practical support for this.

According to the Commission, there are currently around 42,000 migrants living on the Greek islands, most of whom have crossed over by boats from Turkey. Among them are about 5500 unaccompanied minors. The island of Lesvos alone is currently home to 8923 minors, of whom 1112 are there without their parents or other adult relatives. Of the 2031 minors on Samos, 1579 are under the age of 14 and 49 are unaccompanied.

Johansson had called for help for the young refugees at the meeting of EU interior ministers on Wednesday. “It is urgently necessary to get them away from these conditions on the islands and to have a place of refuge for them,” said the Swede on the sidelines of the special session. The day before, Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer had shown himself open to accepting approximately 5000 children and young people in Europe from the Greek refugee camps under certain conditions. Priority, however, was given to border protection, Seehofer said at the meeting in Brussels.

Luxembourg, Finland and France, among others, had spoken out in favour of accepting young refugees. “I think someone has to start”, said Luxembourg’s responsible minister Jean Asselborn before a crisis meeting of the interior ministers. Each EU country should “get out of this hole” per half million inhabitants per ten unaccompanied minors, Asselborn suggested.

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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