Rise in racist incidents against refugees in Greece
Xenophobic and racist "incidents" against asylum seekers during their transfers to mainland Greece are on the rise, a monitoring group said Monday.
Despite regular relocations to the mainland, more than 34,000 people are living in overcrowded Greek island camps that in theory can host just 6,300, while they register as asylum seekers.
The government pledged in October to move 20,000 of them to facilities on the mainland before the end of the year.
"In recent weeks... RVRN has witnessed an increasing number of xenophobic and racist incidents, targeting the transfers of asylum seekers to reception facilities," the United Nations backed Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) said in a statement.
Protests against the arrival of asylum seekers have been held in several towns in northern Greece.
In October, Greek media showed busses carrying asylum seekers in the northern town of Nea Vrasna being forced to turn back as dozens of villagers blocked the road, hurled stones and chanted "close the border".
A nationalist group in the village of Diavata invited locals to a barbecue with pork and alcohol, both prohibited by Islam, in front of a refugee camp on Sunday.
"Any concerns of local communities should not be allowed to be exploited by organised racist groups," the RVRN said.
The NGO also urged Greece to fully implement anti-racist legislation to send "a clear message that such actions are not tolerated in a country governed by the rule of law".