A woman cleans outside her tent at the municipality-run Souda refugee camp on the island of Chios, Greece, on September 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
A Syrian refugee has set himself on fire in a camp for refugees and asylum seekers in Greece in protest at the dire living conditions there as there is no end in sight to the plight of the refugees stranded across Europe.
In a video released by Athens News Agency (ANA), the Syrian refugee is seen self-immolating on the Greek island of Chios in the Aegean Sea, where thousands of asylum seekers remain stranded.
The footage shows a young man with a fuel container and a lighter inside the Vial refugee camp, warning security forces and asylum seekers to stay back. The unidentified Syrian refugee then sets himself on fire after a short tussle with a policeman who struggles to grab him from behind in an attempt to prevent the tragedy.
The refugee was reportedly transferred to hospital for treatment and his condition was described as critical with burns of 85 percent all over his body. The officer who tried to save him was also hospitalized with burns.
The incident comes as an estimated 62,000 refugees and asylum seekers are currently in limbo in mainland Greece and its islands as a result of border closures and a controversial deal between the EU and Turkey on March 20, 2016, aimed at stemming the flow of refugees to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara.
Elsewhere in Europe, Serbia, which is deemed as a Balkans gateway for asylum seekers, has also been the scene of violence against refugees struggling to reach wealthier states in the continent.
Some 8,000 refugees are trapped in the southeast European country after the 27-member bloc closed its borders, hoping to block the so-called Balkans route taken by hundreds of thousands of people waiting to cross the border to Hungary and rich EU countries.
Documented claims by refugees and asylum seekers indicate that police use batons and snarling dogs to subdue frequent revolts in camps and smugglers rob and abuse the victims.
“I could not imagine that European police could be so violent,” said a 21-year-old refugee from Pakistan. “They beat us, took us to a police station and then to a closed center. They beat us again during transfers.”
The intolerable and seemingly endless waiting in tough conditions has forced many hapless refugees to seek help from human rights institutions.
Rights activists say refugees are setting up tents on the streets, abandoned warehouses and makeshift camps as shelters in the Balkan country are full.
Serbian authorities, who have requested more help from the EU, have promised to provide 6,000 beds to accommodate the refugees stranded in the country.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria. The conflicts they are fleeing are usually instigated by the very European and non-European countries they seek to finally settle in.
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