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One Happy Family Arrests made over Lesbos refugee centre blaze

Refugee centre on fire

The blaze at the refugee centre followed a period of escalating tension in the region.

(Keystone / Stratis Balaskas)

Three people have been arrested in connection with a suspected arson attack at the Swiss-run One Happy Family community centre on the Greek island of Lesbos, according to Greek media reports.

The centre, which is used as a meeting place for refugees, suffered extensive damage during the blaze on March 7, but no-one was hurt. It is located not far from the Kara Tepe refugee camp, where around 1,500 refugees and migrants live, including many children and families.

The Greek ANA-MPA news agency on Saturday reported that local police had detained three suspects after viewing CCTV footage from surrounding businesses. The trio are said to be from Palestine with one of them holding a Greek passport.

In the period leading to the blaze at the One Happy Family Centre, there had been repeated acts of violence by right-wing groups on Lesbos, which is just a few kilometres from the Turkish coast.

This comes against the backdrop of a tense standoff between between Turkey and the European Union over who is responsible for the millions of migrants and refugees on Turkish territory and the thousands who have massed at the Greek border.

Tens of thousands of migrants have been trying to get into Greece, an EU member state, since Turkey said on February 28 it would no longer try to keep them on its territory as agreed in 2016 with the EU in return for billions of euros in aid.

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