Baby arrives with Syrian refugees as dinghy reaches Kos beach
Published 21/08/2015 | 10:05
An eight-month-old baby was among up to 40 Syrian refugees packed tightly into a dinghy which crashed on to the shores of Kos this morning.
Arriving on the tiny Greek island, a gateway to the rest of Europe, was a chaotic and jubilant moment for the Syrians, who said they were fleeing president Bashar Assad's regime.
"We make it to Europe," one shouted in celebration after swimming to the safety of the beach, while a father proudly held up his baby boy and the younger generation posed for selfies in the dawn light.
A handful of primary school age children played in the shallow water as women were helped off the overcrowded boat
A young teenager travelling with a family friend broke into a shy smile; arriving in Europe was a small success after the devastation of losing both his parents to the violent civil war.
"We stay only one or two days here, then to main Greece," one said, unaware of the long delays they face in collecting paperwork that has kept many sleeping rough on the island for weeks.
"Where do you we go now? Do people listen to English here?" a man asked as he threw a black bin bag of belongings over his shoulder.
Greek authorities have been criticised for their slow reaction to the migration crisis which has seen more than 30,000 arrive since January, with more arriving every day.
"We escape from the war. We are just numbers (in Syria). Every day people have died, without any reason. I leave Syria one month ago. Now we walk to Europe," a 22-year-old man said.
The group began their four-hour sea journey from Bodrum, Turkey, in darkness to avoid being detected by Turkish authorities.
Some of the Syrians had twice attempted to leave the country but had been stopped as they prepared to board the boat.
They left the northern Kos beach in small groups to begin the walk to a police station, joining other migrants along the way who had arrived overnight on other beaches.
After the migrants had disappeared, a hotel guest waded into the sea on Psalidi beach for an early morning swim, oblivious to what had happened in front of the sun loungers minutes earlier.
A hotel worker began clearing away discarded life jackets, leaving only the bobbing dinghy as evidence that the refugees had been.
As he threw away a child's colourful rubber ring, he said: "They come two days in a row now here, and again two weeks ago. I don't mind, I wish them well.
"For me it is good, I have more work cleaning.
"But it is intense situation. Tourism, who knows what will happen?"