Rising tide of illegal immigrants swamp Greek islands

Mytilene (Greece) (AFP) – The Greek island of Lesbos is being flooded by a rising tide of people seeking to illegally migrate to Europe from the nearby Turkish coast on just about anything that will float.

“The situation is no longer manageable,” said International Organization for Migration worker Zoi Livaditou, who each morning takes stock of new groups of immigrants plucked from the Aegean Sea or arriving on the beach after risky night-time crossings.

“We’re averaging around 200 arrivals each day,” Livaditou said, noting that Lesbos’ capital, Mytilene, counts only 36,000 full-time residents.

But with both Mytilene and a recently-opened detention centre now overflowing — and with aid workers unable to give those rescued much more than survival blankets — local officials now see little alternative to letting immigrants continue on their journey to reach Athens.

“We started on foot from Iran,” said a 25-year-old Iran-born Afghan who recently arrived from the Turkish coast, visible to the naked eye from Lesbos…