As a new ferry was dispatched late on Tuesday to carry hundreds of migrants from islands in the eastern Aegean to parts of the mainland, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called on Greek authorities to ramp up their response to the crisis and on other European countries to contribute to efforts.
The number of migrants arriving in Greece “is accelerating dramatically,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told a press briefing in Geneva, noting that the influx “has reached the 160,000 mark” this year. Arrivals in July alone were 50,242, more than the whole of last year when 43,500 arrived on Greek shores, he said. Reception and registration procedures must be “strengthened urgently,” he said.
Meanwhile, a ministerial decision paving the way for the creation of an agency for managing European Union subsidies for migration was signed on Tuesday, preparing the ground for the disbursement of 2.7 million euros in immediate funding with another 30 million to follow.
A ferry was to leave the main port of Kos on Tuesday night bound for Kavala with 1,700 Syrian refugees on board, Kathimerini learned. It remained unclear whether the ferry would stop off at Kalymnos and Lesvos on the way to collect more migrants.
According to sources, the ferry’s captain refused to take migrants of other origins on board, fearing inter-ethnic brawls. Another vessel which has been docked at the main port of Kos, as a floating reception center for migrants there, is to move to Lesvos on Wednesday.