Wednesday 18 January 2017

Greeks work through the night to ease Kos migrant crisis

Nicholas Paphitis

Published 14/08/2015 | 02:30

A Syrian refugee takes his daughter off a dinghy as they arrive on the Greek island of Kos after crossing from Turkey
A Syrian refugee takes his daughter off a dinghy as they arrive on the Greek island of Kos after crossing from Turkey

Greek police working around the clock greatly reduced the numbers of Syrian refugees stuck in miserable conditions on the holiday island of Kos, where hundreds arrive daily in packed boats from Turkey.

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A rudimentary processing centre set up in a stadium on Kos was running much more smoothly after police issued temporary travel papers to at least 1,000 men, women and children who had been penned inside for up to a day without adequate shelter, food or water.

But large numbers of refugees remained camped on a tree-lined coastal promenade outside the stadium waiting to register.

Around 7,000 Middle Eastern migrants , mainly Syrians, reached the island last month - twice as many as in June - and up to 5,000 are thought to be stuck there waiting for the documents that will let them travel on toward wealthier European countries.

"The registration process is going very well, it's very important to say that (police) were working until four in the morning yesterday and started again very early today," said Kos mayor Giorgos Kyritsis.

"About 700-1,000 people are being registered every day, and I believe that most of the people here will have been registered by the weekend, and the situation will no longer be so intense."

An official for Doctors without Borders, which is helping refugees on Kos, stressed that the refugees' situation remains far from desirable.

"There is still no care being provided for the refugees," Vangelis Orfanoudakis said. "Simply, the administrative process is more humane.

"But these people are getting no support, and no information on what they need to do."

Greece is Europe's main gateway for refugees and economic migrants, after the alternative route from Libya to Italy became too dangerous.

More than 130,000 people have reached the Greek islands this year - a 750pc increase on 2014.

Irish Independent

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