Skip to content
Subscriber Only

The Path Beyond the Waves

Europe is swinging between two responses amid its refugee crisis: Xenophobia and a compassionate pragmatism.
relates to The Path Beyond the Waves
Photographer: Myrto Papadopoulos/Redux

Kos and Chios are Greek islands just 125 miles apart in the Aegean Sea. In the first eight months of the year, each saw almost 31,000 refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, land on their shores in rafts and small boats after trekking through Turkey. Kos chose to treat them one way, Chios another. The difference is emblematic of the way Europe has responded to its refugee crisis.

On Kos, Mayor George Kyritsis and local authorities did little to manage the influx. Food and water have been inadequate; no facilities were established to register and house the migrants. In late summer, the police packed 2,500 refugees into a stadium for almost 24 hours, away from the eyes of tourists. Images of cops spraying fire extinguishers to herd them circulated widely on social media.