Patras, Greece – The number of migrants trying to enter the EU by crossing the Mediterranean Sea on boats has surged with more than 30,000 people reaching the Greek islands already this year.
Most refugees have fled war-torn areas such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. Migrants use Greece as a transit point, and many continue their treacherous journey towards Germany and Scandinavian countries.
Those intercepted by Greek authorities are usually locked up in one of seven designated detention centres for migrants. Greece’s debt crisis has hammered the nation’s finances, and no funds have been allocated to tackle these immigration issues.
With many migrants also trying to enter Greece on land, immigration officials are now seeking abandoned hotels and state buildings to house the asylum seekers.
On the streets there is fear and trepidation of far-right Golden Dawn party members known for their attacks on migrants.
Applying for asylum in Greece buys refugees time to prepare for journeys to other EU countries. Only a few hundred applications are accepted each week. Many migrants wait all night at government offices, only to be sent away by police in the morning.