A dozen migrants were lightly hurt on the island of Lesbos when members of the Patriotic Movement attacked them with bottles and lighting flares, shouting slogans like "Burn them alive."

Since an agreement signed in March 2016 between the European Union and Turkey, those arriving on islands such as Lesbos and Samos have been obliged to stay there until their applications are processed.
Since an agreement signed in March 2016 between the European Union and Turkey, those arriving on islands such as Lesbos and Samos have been obliged to stay there until their applications are processed. (AFP)

A far-right group launched a violent attack overnight on migrants staging a sit-in protest on the Greek island of Lesbos, injuring around a dozen people, police said on Monday.

The violence erupted late on Sunday after members of the radical Patriotic Movement gathered on the central square of the island's main city Mytilene, where some 200 Afghan asylum-seekers launched a sit-in protest last week against their miserable living conditions.

Despite police presence, the situation soon escalated as the extremists started throwing bottles and lighting flares, shouting slogans like "Burn them alive" and "Throw them in the sea."

Tensions spiralled further when left-wing activists arrived in support of the migrants and started fighting with the far-right supporters.

The clashes raged all night until security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowd and evacuate the square, forcing the Afghans to return to the island's overcrowded migrant camps.

A dozen migrants were lightly hurt and had to be taken to hospital, police said.

Over 6,500 migrants are currently stranded on Lesbos, far exceeding the 3,000 spots available in the camps.

More than one million people, mainly fleeing war in Syria, crossed to Greece from Turkey in 2015 after the onset of the bloc's worst migration crisis since World War II.

The influx has been sharply cut since the European Union signed a controversial deal with Turkey in 2016 to send back migrants.

However, more than 13,000 migrants are still languishing in camps on five Greek islands until their asylum claims can be processed. This has fuelled despair and sparked protests and outbreaks of violence.

Greece, a country of 11 million people, recorded 58,661 applications last year, making it the member state with the highest number of asylum seekers per capita, according to official data.

Source: AFP