How Kos became Europe’s Ellis Island

Every week up to 2000 migrants land on the Greek island Kos. Just 5km from Turkey it’s a route to the EU previously little exploited. Now rich holiday makers share the idyllic beaches with desperate immigrants.

“What is the name of this place?” asks a bedraggled migrant as he emerges from the sea, exhausted and disorientated. Over 68,000 migrants have arrived in Kos this year, as Greece tops Italy as the main sea entry point to Europe. It’s another burden in an economically challenging time, yet some locals have begun to help the migrants with food and shelter. “You see that people are in a worse situation than you are. We have to be more kind to each other”, says a local florist. Others resent sharing the island idyll. “You’re here on a holiday to relax and you don’t really want them roaming around near your sunbeds”, says a Dutch tourist. But Kos is only the first leg of the migrants’ journey to Eastern and Western Europe.”Getting to Greece was the easy bit, I guess”, says Azar, a Syrian refugee.

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