Saturday 29 October 2016

This is worst humanitarian crisis since WWII - Irish aid worker

Jayne Ann McKenna
Jayne Ann McKenna

THE mounting refugee crisis is one of the worst the world has ever seen, according to a Dublin aid worker helping those fleeing the war in Syria.

Jane-Ann McKenna, from Foxrock, is based on the Greek island of Kos where she said 500 migrants were arriving on "rubber dinghies and makeshift boats on a daily basis".

"The authorities here are doing their best but are just completely overwhelmed by the scale," said Ms McKenna, who is a director with Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Beaches on the Greek island, traditionally thronged with sun-seeking tourists, have been almost entirely filled by those fleeing the Syrian conflict.

Kos has effectively become a holding pen for them in their efforts to get into Europe and on to Germany.

But Ms McKenna said the island was struggling to cope.

"The problem is there is no reception system here and people are just left to their devices. Looking at it, it appears like there is a severe homeless crisis. There are people everywhere," she told the Herald.


Those arriving have to be registered before they can move on to Europe, but it takes two weeks. In the meantime, they must find shelter wherever they can.

"We are particularly noticing a lot of children and babies. Along on the beach, there are thousands of people sleeping rough and in tents. Basically, anywhere they find some ground to sleep on," she said.

Her teams have been giving out blankets, clothes and other aid, but she said the constant addition of more arrivals was putting strain on efforts there.

"Around 500 people are coming every day in varying conditions. They are coming on makeshift dinghies which are entirely unseaworthy," she said.

"It's the worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two."

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