The Athens-based Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) said on Wednesday that the living conditions of refugees and migrants on Greek islands, where thousands are stranded in dire, overcrowded camps, drove xenophobic rhetoric in local communities, sometimes with "extreme manifestations."
In its 2017 annual report, the network explained that attacks by organized groups against migrants, refugees and activists have been creeping up in Greece, calling for zero tolerance towards racist violence.
It also said that violent assaults had increased in Athens too, adding that perpetrators appeared to execute instructions given to them by their organizations based on pre-meditated plans.
"The RVRN alarmingly observes an increase in the number of assaults committed by groups employing ‘hit-and-run’ like practices," the report said.
On the island of Leros, asylum-seekers reported they had been attacked by groups of motorcyclists using sharp objects. One pregnant woman said she was targeted because of her headscarf. In Athens, one man was verbally abused and beaten in the face at a bus stop, the report said.
On the basis of interviews with victims, it recorded 102 incidents of such violence in 2017, more than a third of which resulted in injury. That was up from 95 incidents in 2016.
However, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights which supports RVRN, does not make any move towards European countries that have been blocking refugees from coming in.
A number of European nations have made clear they aren’t willing to welcome many newcomers, despite the current crisis. The resistance has been heard loudest in Central Europe, although Western Europe has not exactly thrown open its doors either.
In 2017, representatives from 15 countries met to discuss fortifying their borders to make it harder for migrants to reach central and western parts of Europe. Earlier in the same year, EU leaders outlined plans to "stem the flow" of migrants traveling across the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, and boost the ability of the EU to send people back.
"The key priority is reducing the flow without any consideration for the causes of migration," Dr Nando Sigona, an expert in migration at Birmingham University's School of Social Policy said.