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Capabilities on Lesvos stretched to the limit as refugees reach 12,000

Authorities and volunteers on the island of Lesvos are reaching breaking point as 1,700 refugees and migrants arrived on Monday, adding to the about 11,000 people who are already on the island waiting to be processed.

After reaching the shore or being rescued by the coast guard, the refugees, mostly Syrians, walk for hours under the hot sun to reach the town of Mytilene, where the process of identification will start so that they can then leave for Athens. About 4,300 are expected to leave on Tuesday at noon with the Terra Jet and Eleftherios Venizelos ferries which will take on board 1,800 and 2,500 refugees and migrants respectively. 

A side effect of the refugee crisis is the mountains of rubbish being dumped at the northern and eastern coasts of the island where most people arrive. According to local authorities, the coast is littered with orange life jackets, garbage and plastic dinghies left behind by the refugees arriving by the hundreds.  “We can’t take it anymore, we need help,” the local community said in a statement commenting on the situation in Sykamnia and Molyvos. However, the local authority says nothing can be done “at the moment” saying the priority is to secure some basic hygiene for those arriving exhausted from the coast of Turkey.