There were ugly scenes on the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday, where authorities at a registration camp are struggling to contain hundreds of new arrivals increasingly desperate to reach the European mainland.
Shields and batons were used by riot police outside Moria camp, near Mytilene, to hold back a crowd of migrants and refugees from all countries but Syria.
Among those trying to head to Athens is Ali Reza from Afghanistan.
He arrived two days ago, received his registration number, but has been unable to leave the island. He is afraid he might have to wait even longer, as he doesn’t want to fight through the crowd.
“Please be fast because we can’t wait,” he said.
“We waste our money… As you see there is no suitable place to live and stay. We just want our ticket to go to Athens. That’s all I want.”
Lesbos has borne the brunt of Greece’s migrant influx, creating a powder keg atmosphere as frustrations mount.
“Well it depends how the situation will evolve in the next few days but the higher the numbers, the higher the risks for the situation to become explosive,” said Djamal Zamoum, Emergency Protection Officer with the UNHCR.Zamoum renewed his call for the European Union and the international community to provide greater support to the Greek government.
Almost 300,000 migrants this year have arrived in Greece – crossing from Turkey on overcrowded boats or flimsy dinghies – many of them fleeing the horrors of war.
Riot police beating them back was not the reception they expected.
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