Newborn boy found dead as migrants clash with Greek police

  • World
  • Sunday, 06 Sep 2015

ATHENS (Reuters) - A newborn boy was found dead after his migrant parents reached the shores of a Greek island in a boat from Turkey on Saturday, while new scuffles broke out between thousands of migrants and police on another Greek island.

The baby boy was taken from the island of Agathonisi to a hospital on the nearby island of Samos, where he was pronounced dead, the Greek coastguard service said.

Greece is struggling to cope with a wave of migrants and refugees from the war in Syria making the short crossing from Turkey to its eastern islands, including Kos, Lesbos, Samos and Agathonisi. Thousands are waiting to be identified and ferried to Athens to continue their trip to other European countries.

A Greek ferry unloaded 2,500 migrants at the port of Piraeus on Saturday, bringing the total number of people moved to the country's mainland since last Monday to 13,373, the coastguard said.

In a sign of how difficult the situation has become, scuffles broke out for the second day on Lesbos in a row between police and about 3,000 migrants protesting about lengthy identification procedures, a Reuters eyewitness said.

Earlier in the day, about 1,000 migrants got out of a temporary camp and blocked a central road on the island, a police official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"It's difficult, there is shortage in water, we have kids, we have small babies, we have a shortage in all kinds of service," a Syrian migrant told Reuters TV, after getting off the ferry in Piraeus.

The mayor of Lesbos' main town warned on Saturday the island would boycott a general election on Sept. 20 if the government didn't address the situation immediately.

"An island of 85,000 people has taken on the burden of a huge humanitarian crisis," Spyros Galinos was quoted as saying by the Athens News Agency.

"We are calling the people of Lesbos not to participate in the upcoming polls and we are clearly stating our intention not to set up ballot boxes, if there is no immediate action."

European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans and Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos have promised Athens 33 million euros ($37 million) to help it tackle the migration crisis.

Former Greek premier Alexis Tsipras, who resigned last month to prepare for the snap election, and his main conservative rival Evangelos Meimarakis, are fighting a tight election campaign and traded barbs on Friday over the issue.

Avramopoulos, in Athens, urged the parties on Saturday to avoid politicizing the issue.

"With all my heart, I hope that the government that will take over after the elections will tackle the major economic issues along with the migration and refugee issues prudently and with responsibility," he said after meetings with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Interim Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou.

(Additional reporting by Phoebe Fronista; Editing by Matthias Williams and Mark Potter)

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