Other migrants have complained of preferential treatment.
In grim rescue operations on Sunday, Italian and Norwegian navy personnel retrieved the bodies of 49 migrants found dead in the lower hold of an unseaworthy wooden boat north of Libya. Greece is a common entry point, especially the island of Kos, which is two miles from the Turkish coast.
The man tells the camera: “One day, we will tell our children how we fled to Europe as Syrians burned, and thousands of martyrs died”.
More refugees and migrants arrived in Greece in July than during the whole of 2014, a UN official has said. Patane said the air below deck wasn’t breathable because of the number of people and engine fumes.
The tour company Thompson’s has asked that Greece receives assistance to combat what they are calling a migrant tragedy, reports BBC News. The French-based NGO Medicine Sans Frontieres (MSF) has criticised the lack of coordination and the conditions the migrants have to endure, as only a little food and water is being provided by Greek authorities in Kos.
The Greek island of Kos, which last week saw chaotic scenes of overwhelmed police beating migrants with truncheons and spraying them with fire extinguishers at a sports stadium where they were gathered, has come to symbolise Europe’s shambolic response to the refugee crisis. The prime minister’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar, says that the “border hunters” would step up efforts against the “increasingly aggressive migrants arriving with more resolute demands”. The rest of the Syrian migrants sat in a line on the ground throughout the night, waiting to register inside the ship.
For those who make the trip, seeking safety, opportunity, and a new life, the welcome has been less than hoped for.
Behna, who came to Kos from Iran, said, “The situation here is very bad”.
Over the weekend, a vehicle transporting boat was used as a makeshift reception centre for the refugees as Greek authorities struggled to cope with the influx – although critics have compared the boat to a floating prison. “In the beginning, people were welcoming them, now they’re getting exhausted”.
The government of Alexis Tsipras is grappling with an economic crisis but has responsibility to do more, and the European Union must also support Athens, the UNHCR said.
The ferry, which has served as a temporary migrant screening center, has about 1,700 people on board and will pick up hundreds more from other islands on the way. Although Turkey is hosting almost 2 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country, many Syrians say they do not see a future there.
The number of people trying to reach Europe by sea is on track to hit a record this year, according to Geneva’s worldwide Organization for Migration.
Greece is broke but now has to deal with a flood of migrants fleeing war and poverty. Last week (8 to 14 August) a total of 20,843 people arrived by sea in Greece, nearly half as many as during the whole of 2014.