Refugee centre ablaze as tensions rise

A fire has ripped through a refugee shelter on the Greek island of Lesbos as tensions over a surge in migration from Turkey continue to rise.

Flames engulfed the One Happy Family centre, near the island’s capital Mitilini, on Saturday.

It is not clear how the fire started. No causalities have been reported.

In recent days, there has been hostility towards migrants on Lesbos after an increase in arrivals from Turkey.

Hundreds of migrants have attempted to reach the island since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week he was “opening the doors” for refugees to enter Europe.

But on Saturday, Mr Erdogan partially reversed his position. He ordered the Turkish coastguard to stop migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece because it is unsafe to do so.
On Saturday, Greek police fired tear gas at crowds at the border crossing at Kastanies, who responded by throwing stones and shouting “open the gates”, according to the AFP news agency.

The Greek authorities also accused Turkish police of firing tear gas at its police.
Earlier on Saturday, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi announced fresh restrictions on asylum seekers designed to stem the flow of migration from Turkey.

“Accommodation and benefits for those granted asylum will be interrupted within a month. From then on, they will have to work for a living,” the minister said.

“This makes our country a less attractive destination for migration flows.”