Greek villagers stone migrant buses

Migrants sit inside a bus at the toll stations of Malgara, near Thessaloniki. Protesting local residents in northern Greece set up roadblocks to try and prevent migrants from settling in the area. (AP Photo)
Updated 24 October 2019

Greek villagers stone migrant buses

  • Despite a police presence, nine buses taking families and vulnerable migrants to hotels in Nea Vrasna were forced to turn back as dozens of villagers blocked the road and hurled stones
  • The migrants were finally taken to hotels on the island of Euboea, 400 kilometers to the south

ATHENS: The International Organization for Migration voiced concern Thursday following an attack in northern Greece on migrant buses carrying 380 people in what the IOM said was an isolated incident.
Despite a police presence, nine buses taking families and vulnerable migrants to hotels in Nea Vrasna were forced to turn back as dozens of villagers blocked the road, hurled stones and chanted “close the border” and “throw out illegal migrants,” according to images broadcast by public television Ert.
The migrants were finally taken to hotels on the island of Euboea, 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the south.
An IOM statement expressed concern “about the violent incidents that took place in the area of Vrasna,” which it termed “an isolated incident.”
The IOM urged government and non-government groups “to work together in order to prevent” similar situations from recurring.
Greece has once again become the main point of entry for people seeking asylum in Europe, posing a challenge for the conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis that took over in July.
It wants to create 20,000 places for migrants who are saturating small Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
Local officials have begun to push back against the government’s plans however, with the town of Penteli in the northern outskirts of Athens refusing to take in a group of unaccompanied minors.
People who support the migrants have launched a leaflet campaign, and red paint was splattered on the Penteli town hall early Thursday, Greek media reported.


Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

Updated 4 min 22 sec ago

Cambodia to ban elephant rides at Angkor temples

  • The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s tourists
  • Apsara authority plans to end the elephant rides by 2020

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia will ban all elephant rides at the country’s famed Angkor temple park by early next year, an official said Friday, a rare win for conservationists who have long decried the popular practice as cruel.
The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s foreign tourists — which topped six million in 2018 — and many opt for elephants rides around the ancient temples.
But these rides “will end by the start of 2020,” said Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority, which manages the park.
“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” he told AFP, adding that some of the animals were “already old.”
So far, five of the 14 working elephants have been transferred to a community forest about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the temples.
“They will live out their natural lives there,” Kosal said.
The company that owns the elephants will continue to look after them, he added.
Cambodia has long come under fire from animal rights groups for ubiquitous elephant rides on offer for tourists, also seen in neighboring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
The elephants are broken in during training and rights groups have accused handlers of overworking them.
In 2016, a female elephant died by the roadside after carrying tourists around the Angkor Wat temple complex in severely hot weather.
The animal had been working for around 45 minutes before she collapsed.