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Police search for escaped migrants

Police are looking for 10 migrants who escaped from a detention centre north-east of Athens during a violent protest.

They say another 14 migrants were arrested while attempting to escape, while 41 others were detained for participating in the violence.

Migrants set fire to their beds and some of the containers where they live in protest over an extension of the maximum time they can spend at the camp from 12 to 18 months, after which time most of them are deported. They also attacked prison guards, injuring 10. Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to quell the protest.

Police say eight of the migrants they were after are from Pakistan and two from Afghanistan.

The protest started when some detainees attacked guards as dinner was being served. Detainees have often complained about conditions at the camp, including overcrowding, with some staging a hunger strike earlier this month.

The camp is one of several around Greece, officially called "closed hospitality centres". At the end of their detention, the undocumented migrants are deported, or, more rarely, freed and granted asylum.

Greece, a country with very few recorded migrants until the early 90s, has in recent years seen a large influx of undocumented migrants, with tens of thousands entering the country, mainly from the east, crossing through Turkey.

The estimated number of migrants varies, but it is generally believed to be well over a million in a country of 11 million. The earlier wave of migrants, mostly from neighbouring Albania, has been replaced by arrivals from Afghanistan, south Asia and Africa.

The increased presence of migrants has produced a backlash, with a formerly marginal extreme right organisation Golden Dawn entering Parliament for the first time last year and attracting a double-digit following in most recent opinion polls, making it the third largest party in Greece.

Over the last year, the government has contacted several sweeps against undocumented migrants, arresting some 5,000. It has also made integration of migrants difficult through a lengthy process of granting residency and the refusal to grant automatic citizenship to Greek-born children of migrants.


From Belfast Telegraph