About 12,000 migrants, most of them Afghans, are housed in a space designed for 3,000 in deteriorating living conditions.
Asylum-seekers living in the overcrowded refugee Moria camp in the Greek island of Lesbos clashed with police Sunday, setting a container inside on fire which resulted in the death of a mother and child.
"The situation is tense," Lesbos Mayor Stratis Kytelis said, as about 12,000 migrants, most of them Afghans, are housed in a space designed for 3,000 in deteriorating living conditions.
Greek police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos said the migrants lit a blaze at an olive grove outside the camp and, minutes later, another inside the camp. Kytelis said both fires were later extinguished.
Police sent reinforcements to the island along with the chief of police to help restore order.
It was later confirmed by the United Nations refugee agency that both a mother and child had died during the unrest due to the fire, as the burned bodies were taken to the hospital in the island’s capital Mytilini for identification by the coroner.
Greece has been dealing with a resurgence in refugee and migrant flows in recent weeks from neighboring Turkey. Nearly a million refugees fleeing war in Syria and migrants crossed from Turkey to Greece’s islands in 2015.
More than 9,000 people arrived in August, the highest number in the three years since the European Union and Ankara implemented a deal to shut off the Aegean migrant route. More than 8,000 people have arrived so far in September.
On Friday seven Turkish nationals, two women and five children, drowned when a boat carrying them capsized near Greece’s Chios island.
As of 2019, close to 900,000 asylum seekers in the EU are waiting to have their claims processed, according to figures from the European statistics office.
“Living in limbo is now the norm for those seeking protection,” said Karl Kopp of Pro Asyl, Germany’s largest pro-immigration advocacy organization, adding that that “means living in the miserable Greek EU hotspots, or being trapped and pushed back at the borders. It means living in a desperate search for protection and human dignity.”