Saturday 3 December 2016

Greek island struggles to cope with surge of migrants

Rebecca Karlos in Athens

Published 12/08/2015 | 02:30

Syrian men form a safety passage for women following clashes during a registration procedure in the national stadium of the Greek island of Kos. Photo: Reuters
Syrian men form a safety passage for women following clashes during a registration procedure in the national stadium of the Greek island of Kos. Photo: Reuters

Fights broke out among migrants on the Greek island of Kos yesterday, where overwhelmed authorities are struggling to contain increasing numbers of people arriving on rubber dinghies from the nearby Turkish shore.

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Hundreds arrive on the eastern Aegean islands daily, many after fleeing conflict in Syria and Afghanistan.

Authorities, locals and charity groups are struggling to provide food and shelter to the new arrivals, many of who are children.

The Turkish coastguard yesterday rescued 330 Syrians adrift in the Aegean Sea after failing to reach Greece, as the number of migrants attempting the treacherous passage to Europe surges.

"We are told Europe will welcome us, but the door is closed in our face," said Abdul (23) from Damascus, a member of the group. "We will try again every day to reach Greece."

Several of the refugees said their boat had been stopped by armed Greek coastguard officers, who ordered them to dump fuel, stranding them at sea.

A spokesman for the Greek coastguard, Nikolaos Lagadianos, said it "categorically denied" the allegations.

Mr Lagadianos insisted an incident had taken place off the Turkish town of Bodrum, further south, but that the Greek authorities had not been involved.

The United Nations refugee agency said 124,000 migrants have arrived in Greece this year by sea.

Irish Independent

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