Surge in number of refugees arriving in Greece

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Volunteers help newly-arrived refugees on 28 September 2015, as they disembark from a large rubber boat, on the shores near the town of Mithymna, on the Greek island of Lesbos, in the North Aegean region. File Photo: UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

The number of people arriving in Greece by boat surged this week, leaving the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) struggling to cope.

On Wednesday alone, some 85 boats arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos.

At one point violence broke out at a crowded registration site on the island, forcing the evacuation of UNHCR staff members.

Veronica Reeves has more.

The Greek island of Lesbos, just off Turkey has seen a dramatic uptick in the number of people arriving on its shores. According to the UN Refugee Agency, at times there were six boats approaching the shore at once, most of which were rubber rafts carrying up to 50 people on-board.

UNHCR's Adrian Edwards.

"We don't know the full reasons for the surge in arrivals. It could be a temporary improvement in the weather, a rush to beat the on-set of winter and fear that European borders may soon close."

Mr Edwards said currently there are between 3500-4000 people on the north coast of the island. Bus transfers had to be stopped because of overcrowding in the reception centres, leaving some people to attempt to walk the 70 kilometers across the island.

UNHCR estimates that so far this year, more than 450,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece by sea.

Veronica Reeves, United Nations.

Duration: 55″

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