The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – and the strain is pushing everyone to the limit.
Fights break out among the migrants as they wait in long lines for hours in the summer heat and humidity, after days without showers. Families, sleeping on the streets, wander the seaside promenade of Mytilene, Lesbos’ capital, asking at the swanky cafes and restaurants to use their bathrooms or charge phones. The small police force, overwhelmed by the numbers, charges in at any sign of trouble, beating crowds with batons to break them up.
“We escaped from ruin to be met with more ruin here,” said Mohammed Salama, a 45-year-old Syrian. He fled the Damascus suburbs where fighting has raged for years, seeking a refuge so he can bring his four daughters and pregnant wife who remained behind.
Read More: News from The Associated Press
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