Ferry car­ry­ing 2,500 mi­grants reaches Greek port near Athens

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

A ferry car­ry­ing about 2,500 mi­grants who had ar­rived clan­des­tinely on Greek is­lands from the nearby Turk­ish coast docked Thurs­day in Greece’s main port of Pi­raeus near Athens.

Greece has been over­whelmed this year by record num­bers of mi­grants ar­riv­ing on its eastern Aegean is­lands, with more than 160,000 ar­riv­ing since Jan­uary.

The ferry was char­tered by the gov­ern­ment and served as a reg­is­tra­tion cen­ter on the eastern Aegean is­land of Kos this week. It left Kos on Wed­nes­day with 1,300 mi­grants and picked up hun­dreds more from the is­lands of Leros, Ka­lym­nos and Les­bos.

The vast ma­jor­ity of mi­grants do not want to stay in the fi­nan­cially trou­bled coun­try, where un­em­ploy­ment stands at more than 26 per­cent. They head north through the Balkans to­ward more pros­per- ous Euro­pean coun­tries such as Ger­many, the Nether­lands and the Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries, where asy­lum con­di­tions are bet­ter.

Ger­many says it could face as many as 800,000 mi­grants this year — four times the num­ber from last year. Ger­many now han­dles 43 per­cent of all asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions in the 28-na­tion Euro­pean Union and its top of­fi­cials say Europe has to come up with a bet­ter way to share the bur­den.

Those ar­riv­ing Thurs­day in Pi­raeus were board­ing buses head­ing to the city’s main train sta­tion. Many have ended up camp­ing in parks and squares in Athens, although most catch trains to north­ern Greece and from there make their way to the bor­der with Mace­do­nia to con­tinue their jour­ney north.

A new mi­grant re­cep­tion cen­ter has been opened in Athens to house up to about 700 mi­grants. So far about 300 have cho­sen to stay there.


A Syr­ian mi­grant woman com­forts her child upon their ar­rival by dinghy at the south­east­ern Greek is­land of Kos, Greece, Thurs­day, Aug. 20.

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