An island of refugees

"The smugglers often tell the last person to board the boat that he will be the captain. Even if he has never seen the sea before, it is his responsibility to pilot the vessel to the shore of Lesvos."

Few people will have missed the harrowing news reports about Europe's mounting refugee crisis. One place at the centre of events is the small Greek island of Lesvos in the northern Aegean Sea. Thousands of refugees from the middle east are arriving there each week in the hope of finding safe onward passage to central Europe. Many have paid smugglers huge sums of money to make the dangerous sailing, only to be packed into overcrowded and flimsy dinghys.

In Lesvos tourists and local volunteers are trying to help those in need. But with the number of refugees growing each day, and resources and space increasingly stretched, their efforts are becoming ever more difficult to maintain. New Yorker reporter Nicholas Niarcos recently spent time on the island, from where he compiled this moving report.