Migrants and Syrian refugees have started registering on a passenger ship on the Greek island of Kos after a delay of more than a day. The ship will temporarily shelter up to 2,500 people.
Accommodating people on the Eleftherios Venizelos began earlier today (16 August), with Syrians receiving priority by authorities, given that the country is ravaged by war and those who have fled to Kos are likely to be genuine refugees. The island is the latest flashpoint in Europe's migrant crisis as tempers between different nationalities flared yesterday, causing migrants to scuffle amongst each other before being beaten back by police.
The ferry is expected to house people for at least a fortnight as migrants apply for the relevant paperwork to enable them to travel to other European destinations. In the first seven months of 2015 alone, Greece has experienced a 750% increase on refugee and migrant arrivals by sea from the same period last year, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Disturbing footage of migrants clashing over basic human necessities such as food and water has emerged as countries – including Britain and Hungary – pursue policies such as fences to stop the migrants entering them, rather than answer calls to help the refugees from other European Union member states and multilateral organisations.
"Such a level of suffering should and can be avoided," the UNHCR Director of the Bureau for Europe, Vincent Cochetel said following a visit to Greece earlier this month. "The Greek authorities need to urgently designate a single body to coordinate response and set up an adequate humanitarian assistance mechanism. As Greece faces financial challenges the country needs help, European countries should support Greece on these efforts."
Speaking to the BBC about the situation in Kos, Medecin Sans Frontieres' (MSF) Operational Communication Officer, Julia Kourafa said: "We are asking the authorities to help us to provide the space for us to be actually doing the work that we are supposed to do.
"We are alone and this place is impossible to work and it's impossible to have people staying here for 20 days. We are reaching a point that we cannot give any more help because it's too much," she said.
A Sunday Mirror investigation published yesterday revealed that Germany takes 15 times as many migrants as the UK, as 1,000 asylum seekers arrive in Germany every day – the majority fleeing from ISIS. Calls for Britain to do more to help alleviate pressure are growing louder.
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Tabea Beer, who runs a refugee camp in Germany said: "Why don't the British want to protect people fleeing very difficult and dangerous situations in their own country? Just open your borders and let them in. We all have a responsibility to act.
"Certain countries in Europe are not pulling their weight helping refugees and Britain is one of them. Germany can't take many more and if Europe doesn't find a solution, there will be a humanitarian disaster."
Germany is supporting European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker's plans for a quota system that would distribute migrants coming to Europe more evenly across EU countries. Despite this, Britain has an opt-out option on any EU migration policy and chose not to join a scheme earlier this year to evenly relocate 40,000 migrants from Greece and Italy across the continent.