Greek Police Spray Migrants and Refugees With Fire Extinguishers During Unrest on Kos

There were chaotic scenes on the Greek island of Kos on Tuesday as overwhelmed authorities wielding batons used fire extinguishers to spray around 1,500 refugees and migrants who were queueing to register their names to get immigration papers, according to AP. Fights also broke out among the migrants.

Syrians gathered in a sports stadium at a makeshift immigration office could be heard chanting, "We want papers, we want to eat." One Syrian woman told AP: '"I don't have money, please, help me. I want to go, I don't want to stay in Greece, I want to go to Europe. I am Syrian. Syrians (have) bigger problems!"

Kos mayor Giorgos Kiritsis told the Greek ANA news agency there was "a risk of bloodshed if the situation degenerates" further. Island leaders have begun chartering boats to ship the migrants and refugees to the mainland, according to the Times.

Last Friday, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) described the refugee crisis on the Greek islands of Kos, Chios and Lesbos as "total chaos," due to inadequate accommodation, water and sanitation. Around 100 to 500 people per day are landing on Kos, a Greek coast guard official told Reuters.

Around 50,000 people arrived in Greece in July, according to the UNHCR, while some 124,000 refugees and migrants have arrived by sea this year, mainly to the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos and Leros. This represents an increase of over 750 percent compared to the same period in 2014.

A video emerged earlier on Tuesday appearing to show a Greek policeman on the island hitting a man while brandishing a knife. The footage, which appears to show the policeman roughly pushing a group of migrants crowding outside a local authority building before he slaps one man across the face, was captured by an Associated Press correspondent on Monday.

#Greek cop brandishes knife and slaps terrified #Pakistanis and #Syrians as they wait for papers. Welcome to #Kos

— Dalton Bennett (@DDaltonBennett) August 10, 2015

The policeman has since been suspended, and the Hellenic Police Headquarters have ordered an inquiry into the incident, according to Al Jazeera.

The policeman appears to use the knife to gesture to the crowds where they should be standing, although there is confusion as to who the knife belongs to and what sort of knife it is.

@Diakogiannis @nikosft Here is another shot. Looks like a combat knife to me. No?

— Dalton Bennett (@DDaltonBennett) August 10, 2015

The local coastguard said it had rescued 329 people in seven separate incidents off the coast of Lesbos and Kos in the 24 hours from Monday morning, according to AP.

The majority of those coming to Greece are from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, arriving at the Greek islands on perilous rubber dinghies. In July, Syrians accounted for 70 percent of arrivals. "Many are in need of urgent medical assistance, water, food, shelter and information. All are exhausted," said a statement released by the UNHCR. According to the UN, more than 4 million Syrians have fled the war in that country and are designated as refugees.