One of Mediterranean’s largest cruise ships has arrived at the Greek island of Kos to assist with its overwhelming influx of migrants.
Eleftherios Venizelos will serve as a floating registration and accommodation shelter, as Greece faces its greatest migrant crisis for decades.
The Ministry of Immigration Policy and the South Aegean Prefecture hired the cruise ship, which is owned by property of ANEK Lines, to accommodate nearly 2,500 refugees. The refuges will remain on board for about 15 days and will be provided with food and medical care.
More than 125,000 people have entered Greece by sea from Turkey since January. That is a 750% increase on the same period last year and more than in 2013 and 2014 put together.
More than 4,000 migrants are now on the island of Kos waiting to be issued with papers. But with more than 200 estimated to be arriving every day, the authorities are unable to cope with the demand.
The local authorities in Kos Town appealed to the government to send extra police and even the army to help maintain order.
Yesterday morning, the Blue Star 2 ferry docked at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, carrying 1,800 people, of whom nearly 1,100 were illegal immigrants from Kos.
Eleftherios Venizelos is an ice-class passenger ship. It has 1,600 beds and can accommodate up to 2,500 people. 1,000 can eat simultaneously in its catering facilities.
The vessel can operate as a ferry on domestic and international routes or can be used as a cruise ship or a floating hotel. It is certified to carry out voyages to the United States and South Africa.