Briefing notes

Greece: Asylum Seekers and Migrants
Created: 05/04/2016 +

Overview

During the first six months of 2015, the islands of Greece overtaking Italy as the primary point of arrival, and already surpassing the numbers for whole of 2014. In January 2015, there has been a 145% increase in asylum seekers and migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece compare to January 2014. During the first six months of 2015, more than 158,000 people crossed the Mediterranean Sea. As of 24 July, 100,000 people have arrived on Greek islands since the beginning of 2015, 130% more than arrived in all 2014. More than 1,000 people have been arriving every day since the beginning of June, as opposed to 200 in May. More migrants and asylum seekers are expected in the coming months as the peak season usually lasts from July to September. According to a government official, more than 200,000 migrants are expected to arrive by the end of the year.

The Balkans: Asylum Seekers, Migrants, and Refugees in Transit
Created: 04/04/2016 +

Overview

As of 16 November, close to 820,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea in 2015, including 673,916 to Greece, 142,400 to Italy, 2,797 to Spain and 105 to Malta. 85% of the arrivals are from the world’s top ten refugee-producing countries. 52% of the refugees are from Syria, 10% from Afghanistan, 6% from Iraq. As the sea route to Italy via North Africa is longer and more risky, and as the number of Syrians has increased, more people are travelling through Greece and then through the Balkans to reach northern and western Europe. The main pattern of movement is from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) northwest through Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia towards Austria and Germany.

Greece has received the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers in decades and, several months after the start of the crisis, the rate of people arriving continues to grow. Despite the onset of winter, the movement is not expected to decrease, and UNHCR anticipates up to 600,000 arrivals between November 2015 and February 2016. Very few recent arrivals are pursuing asylum in the Balkan countries.

Humanitarian needs are driven by obstacles at the borders, overcrowded and expensive transportation, long waits for registration, tensions between host communities and refugees, the risk of exploitation by smugglers, as well as inadequate assistance and shelter. Local and international capacities are under strain, and the arrival of winter is expected to exacerbate needs.

The closing of various borders in Europe is placing a further strain on the situation, and could result in people being stuck in transit facilities, leading to overcrowding.

The Balkans: Asylum Seekers, Migrants, and Refugees in Transit
Created: 18/03/2016 +

Overview

As of 16 November, close to 820,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea in 2015, including 673,916 to Greece, 142,400 to Italy, 2,797 to Spain and 105 to Malta. 85% of the arrivals are from the world’s top ten refugee-producing countries. 52% of the refugees are from Syria, 10% from Afghanistan, 6% from Iraq. As the sea route to Italy via North Africa is longer and more risky, and as the number of Syrians has increased, more people are travelling through Greece and then through the Balkans to reach northern and western Europe. The main pattern of movement is from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) northwest through Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia towards Austria and Germany. 

Greece has received the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers in decades and, several months after the start of the crisis, the rate of people arriving continues to grow. Despite the onset of winter, the movement is not expected to decrease, and UNHCR anticipates up to 600,000 arrivals between November 2015 and February 2016. Very few recent arrivals are pursuing asylum in the Balkan countries. 

Humanitarian needs are driven by obstacles at the borders, overcrowded and expensive transportation, long waits for registration, tensions between host communities and refugees, the risk of exploitation by smugglers, as well as inadequate assistance and shelter. Local and international capacities are under strain, and the arrival of winter is expected to exacerbate needs. 

The closing of various borders in Europe is placing a further strain on the situation, and could result in people being stuck in transit facilities, leading to overcrowding. 

 

The Balkans: Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Refugees in Transit
Created: 18/03/2016 +

Overview

Over 800,000 asylum seekers and refugees have made their way towards Europe by land and sea in 2015. As the sea route to Italy via North Africa is longer and more risky, and as the number of Syrians have increased, more people are traveling through Greece and then through the Balkans to reach northern and western Europe. The main pattern of movement is from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in a northwestern route through Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia towards Austria and Germany. 

As of 5 November 2015, Greece had received the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers in decades, with over 656,108 people arriving by sea in 2015. The arrival of 210,265 in October alone marks a 2,729% increase compared to October 2014. Over 93% come from the world’s top 10 refugee producing countries; over 60% are from Syria. However, this is a significant under-estimation as only about one-third of refugees and asylum seekers are reportedly registering on arrival to transit countries, according to UNHCR. Very few recent arrivals are pursuing asylum cases in the Balkan countries. 

The humanitarian needs are driven by obstacles at the borders, overcrowded and expensive transportation, tensions between host communities and refugees, long waits for registration, the risk of exploitation by smugglers, as well as inadequate assistance and shelter. Local and international capacities are under strain, and the arrival of winter is expected to exacerbate needs. 

Thematic reports

Middle East - EU Migration: Scenarios
Created: 09/02/2017 +

Overview

ACAPS and the Mixed Migration Platform have produced a new set of Middle East–EU migration scenarios, outlining possible developments in migration via Turkey and Greece over the next six months.

Following scenario-building workshops in Brussels and Antakya in January and February, five scenarios were identified:

-              Continued restricted migration

-              Number of asylum-seekers in Greece falls

-              Number of asylum-seekers in Greece increases

-              Increased returns to Syria

-              Increased movement into Turkey

The report outlines triggers that could drive these scenarios, as well as the impact and humanitarian consequences of each scenario.

European asylum-seeker crisis: Scenarios
Created: 22/04/2016 +

Overview

This scenario document provides a description of situations that could occur in the coming six to nine months, with their associated humanitarian consequences. The aim is to support strategic planning, create awareness and promote preparedness activities for those responding to this crisis.   

In October 2015, ACAPS undertook a scoping study to better understand gaps in information and analysis in the context of the asylum-seeker crisis in Europe. One of the key priorities that emerged from the consultation with humanitarian stakeholders was the need for scenario building, outlining possible developments and anticipated impact on the transit countries over the next six to nine months. At the end of October, three workshops in Athens, Belgrade and Geneva were held to develop and validate these scenarios.  See the methodology section for more information on the scenario building process.

Refugee/Migrant Crisis in Europe: Situation Analysis February 2016
Created: 04/04/2016 +

Overview

Sea arrivals to Greece reduced to an average of 13,500 per week in January, from 22,500 in December. Numbers fluctuate from 0-5,000 per day. Service provision becomes inadequate when high numbers of migrants arrive and when onward transport to the mainland is disrupted causing temporary build ups to occur. Similar issues occur at Idomeni, where there are recurrent border closures.

The conditions migrants find in Greece are still mostly inadequate, whilst conditions further along the route have improved.

Selective entry procedures continue to prevent some non-Syrian, Iraqi and Afghans (non-SIAs) and those not indicating Austria or Germany as their destination from transiting through the Balkan countries. Smuggling along the route appears to be increasing.

Winter weather, coupled with insufficient lifesaving equipment, has resulted in increased fatalities at sea.

Refugee/Migrant Crisis in Europe: Situation Analysis March 2016
Created: 04/04/2016 +

Overview

Sea arrivals to Greece averaged 12,800 per week in February, a reduction from 13,500 in January and 22,500 in December. Daily numbers fluctuated from a few to around 4,800. Bad weather and sea conditions are considered the main reasons for the reduction. 

Increasing numbers of migrants are being prevented from crossing borders along the route and are stranded in the transit countries – a result of political measures taken by destination countries in agreement with transit countries, in order to stem migrant flow. The main impact is in Greece, where capacities to host migrants are already overstretched. All Balkan transit countries currently experience a ‘reverse flow’ with migrants being returned across borders. Humanitarian needs are varied as migrants are not only in transit, but also stuck along the route.

Covert smuggling is expected to increase as stranded migrants seek alternative ways to reach the destination countries following increased restrictions on transit via the official Balkan route.

Stemming the influx of migrants to Greece and tackling the smuggling issue are on the agenda of the 6 March Migration summit between Turkey and the EU. The last weeks of February saw an increase in arrivals on some Greek islands not previously serving as major arrival points, indicating that smugglers are adapting their strategies following clampdown measures by the Turkish authorities. It is not clear whether these measures have significantly reduced the number of migrants crossing the Aegean sea or put migrants waiting to cross at greater risk.

A direct train service from FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) to Austria is planned to be operational in the next few days. Migrants would only be registered once throughout the journey, when boarding the train at the GreekFYROM border. This uninterrupted transport could significantly improve the situation of those on board; however, there are concerns regarding the adequ