As if the current economic crisis, the capital controls and the negative media portrayal of the country weren’t enough, Greek border islands, among them Kos, are having to also deal with a growing migrant problem at the peak of the tourism period.
The otherwise popular Dodecanese island of Kos saw its tourism season abruptly disrupted this week when chaos broke out as police were trying to relocate hundreds of migrants to a football stadium for registration.
The thousands of so-called “boat people”, mostly refugees from Syria who traveled from Turkey in rubber dinghies, have camped out at the island’s main port, beachfront and parks waiting for temporary travel documents.
Kos Mayor Giorgos Kiritsis says some 1,000 people make it to the island every day, and foresees a further increase this week due to the good weather. There are currently 7,500 refugees and migrants on the island.
“The situation is out of control,” Kiritsis has repeatedly warned.
In the meantime, with very few resources and slow EU assistance to deal with the influx, Kos authorities are seeing tourism figures dwindle, with a 7.3 percent drop in the first seven months of 2015.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), some 124,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece by sea since January, a massive 750 percent rise on the same period in 2014.