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Lesbos struggles to register unending waves of migrants

On the Greek island of Lesbos, 4,000 people a day are coming to shore. Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Independent Television News visits a municipal park that’s been taking over by migrants who are waiting to be processed before they can leave the island.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    As William just reported, the waves of arrivals of refugees and migrants continue throughout Eastern and Southern Europe, no more so than in Greece.

    That's where Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Independent Television News found an increasingly desperate situation on Lesbos, an island of 85,000 residents, where, every day, 4,000 people are coming ashore.

  • KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY:

    It is hot, crowded, dirty. They have little food and water. And tempers are fraying and people turning on each other.

    Why are you so upset?

  • MAN:

    Because everyone has fake papers. They go. They take tickets and go. I have the right papers, and they didn't give me a ticket.

  • MAN:

    They don't pay attention. They don't help.

  • KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY:

    Every one of these people has paid a smuggler to get here from Turkey on an crowded inflatable dinghy.

    A Syrian journalist, Ali Hafez, filmed his own family's journey as they crossed the Mytilini Strait yesterday. The smuggler tells them: "Stop. Please be quiet."

    "Just do your job and steer the boat," she says.

    Halfway across, another boat joins them and the panic reaches new heights. The refugees believe they are about to be hit. But the Greek couple on the other boat throw them a rope and tow them towards the shore. There is obvious relief.

    But even now, they still have a 40-mile walk to get to Mytilini. Nobody can leave Lesbos until the Greeks can process them. But officials seems overwhelmed, despite the setting up of a new processing center today. The head of Greece's border protection force is overseeing it herself. She is pessimistic.

    And how many have left today?

  • MAJ. GEN. ZACHAROULA TSIRIGOTI, Greece:

    More than 6,000.

  • KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY:

    And how many new people have arrived?

  • MAJ. GEN. ZACHAROULA TSIRIGOTI:

    At least 4,000.

  • KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY:

    So this is going to have to carry on everyday?

  • MAJ. GEN. ZACHAROULA TSIRIGOTI:

    Actually, yes.

  • KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY:

    Do you see any end?

  • MAJ. GEN. ZACHAROULA TSIRIGOTI:

    No.

  • KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY:

    This is the municipal park. They call it the garden of Mytilini. And it has been taken over by vast numbers of people who've arrived over the last few days and who can't get off the island because they are waiting to be registered. All they have got are these tents that have been provided by a mixture of private donations and aid agencies. And that is where they want to be, on the ferry to Athens.

    Mason Hassini is just 16 years old and traveled here alone from Kabul in Afghanistan.

  • MASON HASSINI:

    We thought that, wherever we came in, Greek — the people would help us and only see if they will register us and give us foods and place to sleep. But no one help us. We are in the park, sleeping in the park. And we have — we don't have anything to eat. It's about two days. I myself didn't eat anything, except water.

  • KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY:

    Tonight, the atmosphere down at the port is still very tense. And one international charity says it has canceled an aid distribution because the police can't guarantee their safety.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Tune in tomorrow night. William Brangham continues his reporting from Europe, as the continent grapples with its largest influx of refugees and migrants in decades. You can follow along with our team as they post photos and videos on our Facebook page. That's at Facebook.com/NewsHour.

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