October 21, 2020
News

‘All our cars were smashed to pieces’ – Greystones doctor caught up in terrifying violence on Greek island

A doctor from county Wicklow who has been volunteering in a refugee camp on Lesbos has described how she was caught up in the violence that erupted on the Greek island in recent days.

Dr Nicola Cochrane, a GP from Greystones, travelled to Greece last Friday to volunteer in the overcrowded Moria camp on Lesbos for a month.

However, Dr Cochrane was forced to leave the camp on Sunday after demonstrations between local Greek men and young men from the refugee camp became violent.

The vehicle she was travelling in was attacked by men on motorbikes who smashed the windows of five cars carrying doctors, nurses, psychologists, a pharmacist and a translator.

Dr Cochrane told the Irish Times: “They got the impression we were driving down to the coast to get refugees off the boat. These Greek men and teenage boys in balaclavas carrying big sticks, planks of wood and baseball bats started smashing our windows.

“They were shouting at us to get out of the cars, I was worried they were going to start grabbing us. I don’t know what they would have done if we had stopped and got out. All our cars were smashed to pieces.”

Protests on the islands of Lesbos and Chios have been breaking out in recent days in response to the number of migrants already on the island and in light of Turkey’s decision to re-open its border for migrants to travel to the European Union.

Protests on the islands of Lesbos and Chios broke out in recent days as tensions boil over the volune of migrants already on the island.

Turkey’s decision to re-open its border for migrants to travel to the European Union has also heightened tensions on the islands.

Dr Cochrane said a vehicle carrying two Irish GPs from Donegal was also attacked but managed to turn back towards the refugee camp.

“We need to cobble together a plan for the next few weeks. We can’t just abandon these people. Our work here is going to have to be revised,” she said.

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