June 5, 2015 / 9:42 AM / 4 years ago

Migrant numbers increase sixfold in cash-strapped Greece: U.N.

A dinghy overcrowded with Afghan immigrants is seen off the coast of the Greek island of Kos whille crossing a part of the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece early May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

GENEVA (Reuters) - The number of migrants arriving on Greece’s islands has increased sixfold since last year, piling more pressure on the cash-strapped government’s services, the United Nations said on Friday.

More than 42,000 people, most of them refugees, arrived in the first five months of the year, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said, part of a growing influx risking the crossing from north Africa to Europe.

“The figures have increased dramatically, particularly in Greece where we have seen people arriving at an average of 600 a day ... We expect it to continue at least at this pace if not become even bigger,” UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told journalists in Geneva.

“Greece does not have the additional resources to handle this humanitarian crisis,” she added.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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