Immigrants in Greek detention center clash with police

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 11, 2013 8:50 AM

ATHENS (Reuters) - Dozens of illegal immigrants being held in a Greek detention center hurled stones at police guards and set mattresses on fire in protest over the extension of their detention, Greek police said on Sunday.

Greece, struggling to exit its worst financial crisis in decades, has become a frontier for immigrants mainly from Asia and Africa, who seek a better life in Europe but often end up living in cramped detention centers.

More than 50 out of 1,620 migrants held at the detention center of Amygdaleza, near Athens, were arrested over the clashes, which broke out late on Saturday.

The detainees hurled water bottles and stones at guards and set garbage bags and mattresses on fire, injuring 10 police guards. There were no reports of injured migrants, police said.

Riot police fired teargas to disperse the crowds, ending the unrest. Police said 10 migrants had escaped.

Greece has been long criticized by human rights groups over the poor conditions at reception centers and a very low rate of asylum application approvals, which makes its treatment of illegal migrants one of the toughest in the EU.

Since the economic crisis broke out, anti-foreigner sentiment has risen in a country where one worker in four is unemployed, boosting the far-right Golden Dawn party which has been ranking third in polls.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; editing by Mike Collett-White)