Migrants fight over food and water on Greek island of Kos

Migrants fight over limited food and water supplies on the Greek island of Kos.

KOS, GREECE (AUGUST 15, 2015) (REUTERS) – Violence broke out on the Greek island of Kos on Saturday (August 15) when sailors delivered a carload of water to migrants struggling to get by on limited food and water.

The migrants climbed onto the car and scrambled to get the bottles of the water, which were piled on the back seat and boot of the car. Some clashed with others in a desperate bid to receive water.

One of the sailors said the chaotic scene made him question the work of the authorities dealing with the influx of migrants into Europe.

“On this planet we all give 25 to 30 per cent of our taxes towards centralised governments and where are they? If they’re not here to do this, to take care of these humanitarian crises then why do we have them? We need to ask ourselves where the money is going,” said Syrus, an American sailor.

The migrant camp on the island is run by Medecin Sans Frontieres (MSF) at the Captain Elias Hotel.

Basic facilities like mattresses and portable toilets are provided, but authorities say they are struggling to keep up with the numbers coming in.

Kos, within sight of Turkish shores, has found itself on the front line of the crisis as new migrants arrive in rubber dinghies at the rate of hundreds a day.

Short of food and water, migrants have been sheltering from the intense heat in tents, cardboard boxes and a makeshift reception.

“This system is not good,” said one Pakistani Migrant, Najlleb, who is staying at the camp.

“Me, I’ve already stayed here for 7 days. My friend is 20 days stay here. No food, no water, no others, no others. This is a very dangerous situation,” he said.

On Friday (August 14) the mayor of Kos handed out water, milk and food to hundreds of Syrian migrants as a huge passenger ship docked on the Greek island to serve as a floating reception centre and dormitory.

Outside the island’s main police station, about 50 migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran threw stones and exchanged blows as tempers boiled over in the intense mid-summer heat.

The MSF says much more needs to be done.

“We are asking the authorities to help us. To provide the space for us to be actually doing the work that we are supposed do. And yeah, we are alone. We are alone and this place it’s impossible to work and it’s impossible to have people staying here for 20 days and to provide any assistance. We are reaching a point that we can not, we can not give anymore help because it’s too much.” said Julia Kourafa, Operational Communication Officer for Greece’s arm of the MSF.

Greece, whose parliament on Friday approved an 85 billion euro ($95 billion) bailout from foreign creditors, is struggling to cope with tens of thousands of desperate migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia even as it seeks to avoid financial meltdown.

Nearly a quarter of a million migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Of these, about half have come to the Greek islands, with numbers surging in the summer when calmer weather makes the crossing marginally less risky.