Over the last few days, the headlines on the front pages of UK newspapers have screamed out about the number of people arriving across the Mediterranean to European shores. Some stories have concentrated on the human tragedy, some have pointed to the upset caused to holiday makers, and others have taken a firm anti-immigration line.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is the UN’s Migration Agency. It’s migration website provides reliable figures collated from across Europe. Their figures – which are updated weekly – provide some perspective.
While there has been a 70% increase in arrivals in Italy and 36% in Greece between the third and fourth weeks of June 2017, the numbers are around 13% higher than 2016 but still much lower than 2015.
The IOM Migration website also draws attention to the number of migrants and refugees who are stranded in Europe.
62,270 people are stranded in Greece. (An average of 66 people a month – between November 2016 and April 2017 – were returned from Greece to Turkey under the controversial EU-Turkey deal.)
5,542 people are stranded in Serbia, many of whom will have come through a very harsh winter.
Tragically, 2,169 people are dead or missing while crossing the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year. 98% of those arriving in Europe do so by sea, with only 1.2% travelling by land.
The EU resolved in September 2015 to to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece by September 2017 to assist in dealing with the pressures of the refugee crisis. Asylum seekers with a high chance of having their applications successfully processed are relocated from Greece and Italy to other EU member states where they have their asylum applications processed. If successful, the applicants are granted refugee status with the right to reside in the member state.
By the end of June 2017, only 22,841 people have been relocated, 14% of the expected total.
Ireland has helped relocate 459 people from Greece and none from Italy. The UK does not participate in the scheme and instead runs the Vulnerable Syrian Persons Resettlement Programme which targets people who have moved out of Syria into its immediate neighbours.