Migrants Crisis: Refugees Attempt to Reach Greek Island of Lesbos

by Tony Hemmings and Bill Neely /

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LESBOS, Greece — Over the hum of the motor, shouts of "Allahu Akbar" — or "God is Great" — are heard. The boat is getting closer — and the three dozen Syrian refugees packed on board are excitedly eyeing the shoreline.

Their inflatable vessel rides low in the water as it makes its way across the narrow stretch of water from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. Their dinghy is part of a wave hitting the Greek isles: More than 124,000 migrants have arrived in the country so far this year.

The United Nations has urged Greece to take control of the "total chaos" hitting the islands, with one official from the U.N. refugee agency saying refugees were exposed to "unbearable" suffering and calling the situation "shameful."

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Last week Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, however, asked Europe for help handling the influx. He said the boatloads of migrants were triggering a "humanitarian crisis within the economic crisis" already gripping his country.

Under clear blue skies this boat approaches the idyllic shoreline — one of at least six dinghies to make the same approach in just hours. The men sit shoulder to shoulder on the side of the boat; the babies are kept low inside the hull. They cheer and snap selfies, eager to capture what they hope will be the start of a new life.

The refugees clambered out as the boat hit the shore; one woman collapsed in tears, on her knees, in the sand.

Their journey is far from over: now the refugees must walk miles to the island's capital in order to register with authorities. A day earlier, police processed more than 1,200 arrivals.

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