ATHENS - Greek Immigration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas on Monday faced off with dozens of angry migrants who barred entry to an Athens camp in protest at poor living conditions.

The demonstration broke out at the Hellinikon camp near Athens, which houses hundreds of predominantly Afghan migrants who had announced a hunger strike hours earlier.

Television footage showed young children perched atop the camp's iron gate as Mouzalas tried to persuade dozens of protesters to let him into the facility.

"We are human. We are not animals," one of the protesters shouted at the minister.

Mouzalas said some of the protesters had tried to punch him, and accused a radical left-wing group of fomenting the demonstration.

"There is no hunger strike...(the protesters) tried to stop food deliveries and the dispatch of sick persons to hospital," the minister told reporters. "Whoever feels repressed in this facility is free to go," he said.

The anti-fascist Keerfa group, which organised the protest, says the migrants lack hot water and are given food unsuitable to their dietary customs.

A disused Olympic park, Hellinikon houses over 1,500 migrants who say the run-down stadiums are unsuited to long-term habitation.

A former member of Doctors of the World, Mouzalas was eventually allowed in after a shoving match with the migrants, many of them teenagers.

Some 60,000 people, including many young Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis, have been stuck in Greece for the past year, languishing in camps after countries along the migrant route into Europe shut their borders.

At the start of the major influx in 2015, Afghans were originally viewed as refugees and allowed to continue their journey from Greece to other countries in Europe.

But many now face deportation - despite growing insecurity that saw civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record high in 2016 - after a disputed deal between EU and Kabul to send migrants back.