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Huge increase in migrant arrivals on Greece’s Lesbos

Greek policeman watches Afghan migrants arriving at a beach in Lesbos island

More than 2,500 people, mainly Afghan refugees, arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday morning in the space of three hours, a Reuters photographer said, with more on the way.

About 40 rubber dinghies each carrying 60 to 70 people arrived in the rain on one beach on the island, which was covered in life jackets and rubber tubes. Some were suffering from hypothermia.

Nine more boats could be seen in the distance, he said.

“It was difficult, we were afraid,” said 18-year-old Ruhin from Afghanistan, whose younger sister collapsed on the shore.

Hundreds of thousands of mainly Syrian refugees have braved the short but precarious crossing from Turkey to Greece’s eastern islands this year, mainly in flimsy and overcrowded inflatable boats.

Reuters photographers who have been working on the island said the number of boats was far greater than normal for such as short period. Forty boat arrivals would be consider large for a full day, they said.

The International Organization for Migration has previously estimated that of a record 430,000 refugees and non-refugee migrants who made the journey across the Mediterranean to Europe earlier this year, 309,000 arrived via Greece.

The European Union approved a plan on Tuesday to share out 120,000 refugees, mainly from war-torn Syria, across its 28 states, overriding vehement opposition from four ex-communist eastern nations.

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