(Kos, Greece) – The Greek Coast Guard rescued 59 migrants from a distressed boat in the Aegean Sea near the island of Kos on Wednesday. Greece has rescued over 300 migrants from distressed boats since August 8, 2016 and Turkey has also rescued ships filled with refugees that have been in distress. At the time of the rescues, the waters near the island of Kos were rough and the inflatable boats that the refugees were using could not hold up to the waters. Kos is one of the islands that is part of the Dodekanese island group. All the Dodekanese islands are close to Turkey, which means that it gives refugees easy access to Greece once they make the decision to leave Turkey.
Last summer, thousands of refugees and migrants left their countries and entered Greece but the numbers for 2016 have been much lower. One of the reasons why there haven’t been as many refugees is because of a deal that the European Union made with Turkey. However, after the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, there has been a surge of refugee activity. This has brought up fears that the deal between the EU and Turkey is starting to break down. Border closures in Northern Greece have also reduced the amount of refugees coming into the country.
There are currently over 57,000 migrants and refugees living in makeshift and state run refugee camps throughout Greece. Around 11,000 of these people are located in various islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. Most of these refugees are waiting for the Greek government to process their asylum applications. However, the long wait times have left people who live in the camps demoralized as they fear they will be stuck in Greece for a lot longer than they expected.
Some of the camps are experiencing overcrowding and to fix this problem, the Greek government has announced plans to build refugee camps on the island of Crete. Despite the fact that 2000 refugees are expected to be moved from their camps elsewhere in Greece, 3000 of these spots will be taken up by refugees that are coming from Germany.