Riot squads dispatched as Greek islands 'overwhelmed' by migrants

Riot squads dispatched as Greek islands 'overwhelmed' by migrants

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Greek islands off the coast of Turkey are reportedly becoming overwhelmed by an influx of migrants just as the summer holiday season reaches its peak.

Hundreds of police were deployed yesterday after crowds of migrants started fighting for food and identity documents.

Police used fire extinguishers and batons to disperse crowds of migrants during angry clashes on the island of Kos.

The escalation of trouble will fuel anxieties among the 90,000 British tourists holidaying on its islands, the Times reported.

The number of tourists visiting Kos fell by 7% this year amid economic and political uncertainty and the sight of makeshift migrant camps. But there have been no reported cases of migrants threatening tourists.

Authorities in Athens dispatched two riot squads to Kos and another 200 officers to the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Leros, which have all been inundated by refugees because of their proximity to Turkey.

Some 30,000 illegal migrants have arrived on Kos since the start of the year — almost doubling its population. Figures from the Greek coastguard showed that 156,726 illegal migrants have reached the cash-strapped country this year, a 500% increase.

Hundreds of migrants are arriving on Greek islands in the Aegean Sea every day, with authorities struggling to provide adequate food and shelter.

Many of the new arrivals - mostly from Syria and Afghanistan - have been camping in Kos town, gathering in parks and squares on the popular tourist island.

A group of migrants blocked the main coastal road of Kos on Tuesday and staged a sit-in.

Police later tried to relocate the group to a nearby stadium for registration, leading to clashes between officers and around 1,500 refugees.

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