Local reports on Saturday said six persons were wounded in the clashes. One Syrian Kurdish refugee said four Kurds had been killed when they were set upon due to “sectarian and ethnic hatred against Kurds.” Reports corrected the numbers on Sunday to indicate ten had been injured and none killed.
The Moria camp on Lesbos has been the center of brawls before between refugees who are stuffed into a facility of 7,000 inhabitants that has been operating at 300% of capacity for months.
In 2017 there were massive fights in the camp in March and December, and an Afghan migrant was reported killed in November last year. A report earlier this month in the Greek newspaper Ekathimerini said the camp was nearing a “breaking point.” Women said they were at risk of sexual violence. One refugee said he was stuck in the shocking conditions for two years.
The latest crisis began on Friday, when riot police and medical units were called to Moria as fights broke out. First aid was provided and migrants were transferred to Mytilene hospital. Moro Tabush, a Syrian Kurdish refugee, told Kurdistan 24 television that Syrian and Arab refugees had attacked Kurdish families. According to the initial report, two of his cousins were killed as well as another man from Afrin in Syria. He “claimed that Greek authorities in the camp did not intervene.”
The Kurdish channel Rudaw interviewed a man named Khalil from Kobane in Syria. He said that he was fasting for Ramadan on Friday, “yet some Arabs from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Algeria came and said, ‘Rojava Kurds are infidels and don’t fast.’”
Khalil said this was the cause of the fight. He said no one was killed but that 17 Kurds were wounded, 10 severely.
The attacks on Kurds caused hundreds of Kurdish refugees to flee the camp and head toward the town of Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos. According to tweets by Michael Raber, who posted photos online, the people who fled included secular Kurdish refugees who warned “of rising influence from Daesh [ISIS].”
One of the problems in the refugee camps is that the authorities do not distinguish between the arrivals or take religious and ethnic differences into account. This is difficult, because there are refugees from both sides of the civil war, some of whom had been fighting each other in Syria before arriving in the European Union. It’s unclear the degree to which Greeks working at the camp are aware of these tensions and differences or speak the language of the arrivals.
According to Yazda, an organization that works with Yazidis, many of the Yazidi refugees also fled the camp after the fighting. Yazidis were targeted for genocide by ISIS in 2014 and they have suffered attacks before as refugees in Europe at the hands of Islamist extremists.
According to the group Lesbos Solidarity, which has responded to the refugee crises on the Greek island, space is needed to host 120 people who fled Moria and are now in Pikpa, an open refugee camp in Mytilene.
Video from Saturday shows many families with children on roads after having fled Moria.