Law enforcement and riot police have been deployed to Bulgaria’s largest migrant and refugee camp, located in the town of Harmanli, after violence erupted in the center. 15 injured, over 200 arrested while inhabitants damaged the facility setting the premises on fire. Dozens of law enforcement officers were injured.
RT The Harmanli camp, which is the largest in the country, houses some 3,000 people, mostly from Afghanistan, according to Reuters.
Some 250 police officers, firefighters and gendarmerie were deployed to the scene, local police spokeswoman Nina Nikolova told AFP. Protesters threw stones and other objects at law enforcement, who had to deploy water cannon to disperse the angry crowd.
The migrants burnt car tires, and set mattresses and furniture alight in several of the camp’s buildings. Many structures, including a canteen and a new building which was supposed to open this week were damaged.
The riot was reportedly caused by a quarantine, with the Harmanli camp having been sealed off following reports of skin disease outbreaks among its Muslim residents. Migrants were protesting against the temporary restrictions on leaving the center.
Officials placed the facility under quarantine after locals from the nearby town staged a protest following reports that people from the camp carried communicable skin diseases. The head of the Bulgarian Refugee Agency, which runs the camp, later said reports of the infection were false and “artificially created tension.”
Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest member state, has toughened its border controls to decrease the flows of illegal migrants.