- Clashes broke out on Lesbos after unregistered refugees were stopped by police as they tried to board a ferry
- 200-strong group had hoped to be taken to the mainland where they could continue their journey to western Europe
- But officials wouldn’t allow them to leave Lesbos until they were registered – a process that can take several days
- Scuffles broke up and refugees were seen throwing stones at the police in chaotic scenes show of state television
A group of unregistered refugees trying to board a ship scuffled with Greek officials on the island of Lesbos this morning, with television footage showing them throwing stones at police.
The clashes erupted as senior European Union officials visiting Greece promised more help to countries on the frontline of a refugee crisis that has seen hundreds of people, many fleeing war and poverty, arriving on Greek shores every day.
‘About 200 migrants that were not registered tried to get on a ferry at the port and they were pushed back by the police and the coastguard,’ coastguard spokesman Nikos Lagkadianos said.
European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans told reporters in remarks broadcast from the Greek island of Kos that Brussels would next week propose an expanded scheme to relocate asylum seekers around the bloc.
Athens will receive 33 million euros from Brussels in the first tranche of funds Greece has asked for to cope with the influx of refugees, Timmermans said, adding that countries should also speed up the process of weeding out bogus asylum claims.
Every day in Lesbos, it’s like a new village is born.’ Mayor warns that Greek island has been overwhelmed with migrants as hundreds arrive by boat each night and can no longer cope.
The interim Greek government this week asked for €700 million of funding in total.
‘So if we are to stay in touch with our own humanity and keep support from the European population for a humane asylum policy we have to make sure that people who do not have the right to asylum are identified quickly and sent back from where they came from,’ Timmermans said.
‘If we do not succeed in doing that, the asylum policy will collapse and that would be a tragedy for our European values.’
Help can’t come soon enough for the mayor of Lesbos’ main town, who on Friday made a public plea for aid and for Athens to declare a state of emergency on the island.
‘For four months now I have been saying that I am holding a bomb in my hands and the fuse is slowly burning,’ Spyros Galinos, mayor of Mytilini told state TV ERT.
‘Two days ago I sent a letter asking to declare the island in a state of emergency. Today I am asking the prime minister for immediate relief measures, the situation has become unmanageable.’
A ship carrying 2,493 refugees collected from various Greek islands arrived in Athens earlier on Friday.
‘It is a very difficult trip,’ said Mohad, a 27-year-old refugee from Damascus. ‘We were very hungry and thirsty on the Farmakonisi island. Actually we are suffering from a lot of things. But we hope to arrive to specific area like Germany or Sweden or any country protect us, OK?’
Earlier hundreds of refugees escaped from two camps in Hungary to make a dash for the border as chaos gripped the eastern European country.
In farcical scenes, dozens of families clambered over a fence at a processing reception near the town of Bicske just moments after they had been dropped off on buses by the Hungarian authorities.
At the nearby railway station, hundreds of refugees also staged a protest in a stand-off with police after refusing to be taken to the camp, claiming they had been tricked into boarding the train.
Meanwhile, around 300 others broke out of a camp in Roskze, on the Serbia border, and ran for the motorway in their bid to reach Austrian hundreds of miles away.
Officials said the refugees fled in two groups at around 9.30am GMT, adding that police have taken ‘the necessary steps’ to detain them.
The refugees are trying to avoid the centres because they do not want to pursue asylum claims in Hungary, which is economically depressed and much more likely than Germany to reject their claims.
It came as Hungary’s Prime Minister warned the influx of Muslim refugees was threatening ‘Christian roots’ and would leave Europeans a ‘minority on their own continent’.
Viktor Orban described the wave of refugees as ‘endless’ and warned that ‘many tens of millions’ more would come if the EU did not protect its borders.
In an opinion piece for Germany’s Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, Orban wrote that his country was being ‘overrun’ with refugees, noting that most were Muslims, while ‘Europe and European culture have Christian roots’.
‘We must not forget that those who are coming in have been brought up under a different religion and represent a profoundly different culture,’ wrote the conservative Hungarian leader.
‘The majority are not Christians but Muslims. That is an important question because Europe and European culture have Christian roots.
‘Or is it not already, and in itself, alarming that Europe’s Christian culture is barely able to uphold Europe’s own Christian values?’
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