12 Aug 2015

Kos migrant crisis: ‘blood will be shed’

There were chaotic scenes outside a stadium on the Greek island of Kos yesterday, as hundreds of migrants fought to be registered.

Greek police used fire extinguishers and batons against migrants after scuffles broke outside a sports stadium where hundreds of people, including young children, were waiting for immigration papers.

This comes after a Greek police officer was suspended for slapping a man, thought to be Pakistani migrant, while brandishing a knife.

The migrant crisis in Greece has rapidly intensified as authorities are struggling to cope with the huge number of people arriving daily in search of a better life.

Between 100 and 500 arrive on Kos every day, many of them fleeing war torn countries come across the sea in rubber dinghies from Turkey.

As a result the holiday island, which has a population of 30,000 people, is overwhelmed with migrants and refugees to accommodate and house.

But an attempt to relocate hundreds of people to a stadium for registration on Tuesday reached boiling point where chaos and violence erupted.

Protesting migrants waiting in long queues were demanding quick registration and were reportedly chanting “we want papers, we want to eat!”

‘Blood will be shed’

Kos Mayor Yorgos Kyritsis earlier said strained local services, including the police and coast guard, were unable to cope with the influx.

“This situation on the island is out of control,” he told Greek TV. “There is a real danger of uncontrollable situations. Blood will be shed.”

He has called for ferries to be sent from Athens to immediately move the migrants of the island.

‘Shameful conditions’

Over 7,000 illegal immigrants have arrived on Kos this summer and many are sleeping rough on the roadside or in disused hotels and on beaches, but they are still thrilled to arrive.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said 124,000 had landed on Greek islands this year and they have called the conditions for migrants “shameful”.

UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said in Geneva said: “While they wait, they have to endure inadequate living conditions and little or no assistance.

“There is a great deal of frustration and rising tensions. We call on the Greek authorities to renew their efforts to provide decent reception conditions to refugees arriving in Greece.”