Islands see surge in arrivals of refugees
The number of refugees arriving on Greek islands has risen from 4,500 a day in late September to 7,000 over the past week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said yesterday, as a toddler was found dead off the coast of Lesvos in the eastern Aegean.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Lesvos today and a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsirpas in Athens later in the week, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said asylum seekers appeared to be making a move before weather conditions deteriorate.
“All of a sudden, with the kind of weather that you have in the Balkans, this can be a tragedy at any moment,” Guterres said.
The IOM data came as a baby died after the motor of the rubber dinghy carrying him and another 56 people broke down off Levsos, the coast guard said yesterday. The 1-year-old boy, whose nationality was not reported, was found unconscious and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Also yesterday, sources said that a police officer who was photographed kicking a refugee in a temporary reception center on Lesvos had been identified. He is expected to be summoned to explain himself following an urgent investigation into the incident.