September 1, 2015 / 8:55 PM / 2 years ago

Greek ship ferries hundreds more migrants to mainland

Refugees and migrants disembark from the passenger ship "Tera Jet", following their trip from the island of Lesbos to the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece September 1, 2015.Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - A ship bringing about 1,800 migrants and refugees from an eastern Greek island to the port of Piraeus arrived on Tuesday night, the Greek coastguard said.

Greece has seen a spike in the number of refugees and migrants arriving on the islands by rubber dinghies via nearby Turkey this summer, with aid agencies estimating about 2,000 crossing over daily last month.

After a hiatus of a few days last week, Greek authorities on Saturday resumed carrying the refugees - mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - to the mainland by ship from the islands of Kos, Lesbos, Samos, Symi and Agathonissi.

Many then carry on their journeys across mainland Europe.

"You have to help us," said 27-year-old Isham, a Syrian teacher who left his wife and two children behind in Turkey.

Refugees and migrants disembark from the passenger ship "Tera Jet", following their trip from the island of Lesbos to the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece September 1, 2015.Alkis Konstantinidis

"We are human," he said, appealing to governments not to block the refugees' attempts to travel through Europe in search of a better life.

A coastguard official said the ship, the Tera Jet, carrying 1,749 migrants from Lesbos docked in Piraeus, adding that another ship with 2,459 migrants was expected to arrive from the island in the early hours on Wednesday.

An average of 1,700 migrants crossed into Greece daily in July, with the number topping 2,000 a day in August.

Cash-strapped Greece has said it lacked the infrastructure to cope with influx.

President Prokopis Pavlopoulos told French counterpart Francois Hollande by telephone that migration should be addressed at a top European level, according to a statement by Pavlopoulos' office.

Greece's caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou will chair a ministerial meeting on migration on Wednesday. Thanou took over last week after former Greek premier Alexis Tsipras, who heads the leftist Syriza party, resigned last month to pave the way for a snap election on Sept. 20.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Georgia Kalovyrna; Editing by Matthias Williams and Alison Williams

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