From paradise to petrified - ex-pat tells of refugees fear

AN EX-PAT Wigan woman has told how her idyllic retirement isle has become a place of fear following the influx of refugees to Greece.
Migrants and refugees disembark from a ferryMigrants and refugees disembark from a ferry
Migrants and refugees disembark from a ferry

Judith Denby, who moved to Kos in 2002 after leaving her job as a Wigan and Leigh College economics lecturer, said that while she has sympathy with people who are fleeing war-torn countries, she is worried about riots and further problems where she now lives.

She admitted she even has an air rifle in case there is trouble from the large number of young, single men, who are based on one of the new migrant camps on the Aegan islands but hopes she will never have reason to use it.

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The 68-year-old widow said: “The air rifle is years old and probably doesn’t work but it gives me peace of mind. If it was women and children and families on their own, I wouldn’t mind, but my fear is that there will be a lot of single young men roaming around, walking between the camp and the village.

“Until last week I had total freedom, but that peace of mind has gone. For the first time ever I’m locking my house and my car. I have not spoken to any refugees. They are in Kos town in an old unused hotel. The camp is not ready yet so there are only rumours about how many will be there. I believe the actual Syrian refugees are processed very quickly and then put on the boat to Athens.”

Judith, who has two sons, added that she is also concerned about the livelihood of residents, as knowledge of the camp will deter holidaymakers. She added: “Some people think having a camp will solve the problem that we had last year with immigrants by the harbour front. But tourism will be drastically affected with people knowing there is a camp, so I am therefore concerned about the welfare of the Greeks who rely on tourism for their livelihood.”

Recently, riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades at crowds of protesters on Kos as tensions over a new migrant camp flared.

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A nine-year-old boy was injured during the violent clashes on the Greek island, as about 2,000 locals marched from the village of Pyli to the proposed site of the facility on an abandoned army base.

It is the latest instance of disorder surrounding the controversial centre.

Last week armed locals blockaded roads, lit fires and hurled petrol bombs at police near the site to try to halt construction.