Volunteering at the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greystones GP Dr Nicola Cochrane has revealed that the car she was travelling in was attacked by a group of local men.
Using “planks of wood and baseball bats”, the attack reflects the growing mood of unrest and violence across the island.
The attack was carried out by men on motorbikes, who descended upon the five-car convoy carrying doctors, nurses, psychologists, a pharmacist and a translator.
“They got the impression we were driving down to the coast to get refugees off the boat,” Dr Cochrane told The Irish Times. “These Greek men and teenage boys in balaclavas carrying big sticks, planks of wood and baseball bats starting smashing our windows. They were shouting at us to get out of the cars; I was worried they were going to start grabbing us.
“I don’t know what they would have done if we had stopped and got out. All our cars were smashed to pieces.”
Dr Cochrane travelled to Lesbos last Friday, to volunteer for a month, but had to leave on Sunday afternoon after clashes between men from the refugee camp and local Greek men turned violent.
With Turkey having decided to re-open its borders for migrants to travel to the European Union, protests on the islands of Lesbos and Chios have been on the increase. One German politician, Erik Marquardt, currently on Lesbos, tweeted on Sunday that locals were ‘attacking journalists and NGO volunteers on different spots on the island’.
Having been advised that the houses they were planning to stay in may also be attacked, Dr Cochrane and her co-volunteers finally found a safe area on the island. “We need to cobble together a plan for the next few weeks. We can’t just abandon these people. Our work here is going to have to be revised.”
The Moira camp has a capacity of around 3,000 people, but is estimated to be currently housing between 13,000 and 19,000 refugees.
“There’s a lot of anger, especially among younger men in the camp. They’re starting to act out, which is predictable, and feel they’ve been mistreated by the Greeks. That’s a bit harsh because, where is the rest of Europe in this?
“The lack of international response to this situation is appalling. It’s like everyone has turned their backs and washed their hands of it.”
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