Greek police lock migrants, Syrian refugees in Kos stadium overnight

Published August 12th, 2015 - 01:48 GMT
A policeman pushes a migrant as hundreds wait to complete a registration procedure by the police at a stadium on the Greek island of Kos on Aug. 12, 2015. (AFP/Angelos Tzortzinis)
A policeman pushes a migrant as hundreds wait to complete a registration procedure by the police at a stadium on the Greek island of Kos on Aug. 12, 2015. (AFP/Angelos Tzortzinis)

Clashes broke out on Tuesday in the Greek island of Kos, where police resorted to using a sound bomb and locked migrants overnight inside a soccer stadium to maintain order.

Greek authorities were attempting to relocate and consolidate migrants who have been camping along roads and beaches in the island into a soccer stadium for registration. There are more than 1,000 migrants in Kos, mostly Syrian and Afghan.

"The situation on the island is out of control," mayor of Kos, a popular tourist destination, Giorgos Kiritsis told ANA, a Greek news agency, according to BBC News. "There is a real danger that blood will be shed."

Police used batons and sprayed fire extinguishers in attempts to control the crowds agitated by heat and the slow process of registration, as only about three police officers were there to register the hundreds of migrants. Several migrants fainted from heatstrokes and one had an epileptic seizure.

"It was becoming a bit uncontrollable, the situation, and there was a complete lack of coordination," Julia Kourafa, a Doctors Without Borders spokeswoman, said at the stadium, according to The Guardian. "It was just the police there, no UNHCR [the UN's refugee agency], and no security for [our] team."

A Kos policeman was suspended on Monday after he was filmed slapping a migrant across the face and shoving several others as he was holding a knife.

"This is the first time we've seen this in Greece — people locked inside a stadium and controlled by riot police," Kourafa added. "We're talking about mothers with children and elderly people. They've been locked in there after many hours in the sun."

By Andrew V. Pestano


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