Refugee Crisis Leaves Thousands Stranded on Greek Island

Many of them hope to make it from Lesbos, Greece, to Germany, which is actively resettling immigrants.
7:57 | 09/09/15

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Transcript for Refugee Crisis Leaves Thousands Stranded on Greek Island
Tonight, an intimate look at the international refugee crisis, as men, women, and children cross over european borders by the hundreds of thousands of some of those countries are warning this evening they can't keep up. My "Nightline" co-anchor, Dan Harris is on the ground. Dan? Reporter: Good evening to you from the port on the beautiful Greek island of lesbos. Norm think would be filled with high-end tourists, but tonight it is packed with refugees. Thousands of them have gotten stranded here. This is a situation that has created anger, even violence. Over the past 36 hours we have witnessed some extraordinary events unfolding here. We were right there today as refugees finished a perilous leg on their journey to freedom, packing these rickety illegal smuggling boats from Turkey and sayiarriving here on the Greek island. These families have risked everything, their lives, their family, everything they know and love to arrive here in Greece. The relief painted all over the faces of the parents. What's her name? Fatimah. Reporter: Welcome to Greece, Fatima. These people have just taken a massive risk. Massive risk. People have died crossing this strait. I'm very glad you made it safely. Thank you, sir. Thank you very much. Reporter: Those who make it are met by volunteers like Hannah Louisa who traveled from Denmark to hand out supplies and give basic medical attention. Why did you come here? I just came because I needed to do something. Reporter: How would you describe this situation here? Totally chaotic. Reporter: Chaotic, yes, but in these first few moments often jubilant. That initial elation evaporates for these new arrivals when they realize they have a 30-mile walk in front of them in the searing heat. And then this. After making the hike, the refugees have been running into a bureaucratic blockade. The government here on this island of roughly 85,000 people has been unable to speedily process everyone, to give them their papers and send them along. These refugees, fleeing war and terror in places like Syria and Iraq want to move it. Wa insred. So, wh importa things happen, we're here. Your Lal TV and radibroadcasrs. America'number O source for newsweatherand infoation. Rycreen in your Fe. ? We a broreers, always here for Yo wherever here may be. Xt "TV" 52886. Llastengtohi locastationsatter. It. In a squalid camp hastily set up on a disused go-cart track, we met many angry Jeff grefugees including this mother who said she was trying to get her son to Germany for medical treatment. It is just stunning. We are on a paradise island in Europe. Yeah. Reporter: And we are in a refugee camp. Yeah, I've been doing it for 20 years, and I never thought I would be doing emergency response in Greece. Reporter: Curt day says that the rules for leaving seem to change constantly. They are upset with any delays associated with being able to get off the island. Reporter: Sure enough, as we're rolling, Kirk gets a phone call. Three boats arriving, and we'll be running to get all the refugees we can off the island, that's a capacity of 6,000 people. Reporter: Hours later, we're on a soccer field that's been transformed into a field of dreams. Officials have set up an emergency processing center, which they say will run 24 hours a day until they can deacon jest this island, and it appears to be working. I'm very touched. Extremely touched. Reporter: Alexandra works for the united nations. To have people walk by and say thank you, that must be an incredible moment. I'm touched. Reporter: They are celebrating. Yes, thank god. Reporter: What is it like for you? Don't make me cry. Reporter: And look at the tears that come when that mom we met earlier finally gets her papers to leave. Thank you, thank you! Reporter: There really are no happy endings on lesbos, though, as the newly processed refugees clamor to join the first boat out, it is deadly. This is a combustible mix of hope and chaos. So many people lined up clamorring to get on this boat, and a few officials trying to maintain some sem blachblance of order. It is entirely possible someone could get crushed. These people are still facing a long and arduous journey ahead. That first boat load arrived on the Greek mainland and headed north. But they are heading toward a potential buz saw in Hungary. The world has truly been horrified by the images of Europe's refugee crisis, families running through cornfields, scrambling under barbed wire and penned into camps. Then there are the people turning a profit on all this, like the smuggler in this video obtained by the bbc, discussing the sale of those dangerous little boats that refugees use to cross from Turkey into Greece. On to mane land Greece and up through Germany where tvehey' seen those pictures of immigrants being warmly welcomed. But instead, they've been , running out money and patience. There have been clashes with the situation here on has created some bizarrecontrasts. This idyllic island, a place where aristotle once lived now teeming with refugees. This quaint little city center would normally be filled with strolling summer tourists, but it you can see, overrun by literally thousands and thousands of refugees living in tents with all their worldly possessions, their children and their the future. And the local government here is completely unprepared to deal with America. Everybody moved by a sense of urgency here. Reporter: Something has to be done and soon. Because, as we saw on the beach in lesbos today, the desperate people, they just keep on coming. Tonight here at the port, it is still crowded but much less chaotic. In the past day or so, they've managed to send thousands of refugees off the island. While that will ease the situation here, what it does is essentially move the problem up north. This crisis is far from over. Byron, back to you. Dan, thank you for that report.

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