North Macedonia + 15 more

UNICEF Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe: Regional Humanitarian Situation Report #11, 4 May 2016

Attachments

Highlights

  • Since the beginning of 2016, almost 184,500 people have crossed the Mediterranean to seek safety and protection in Europe. Of them, 154,914 arrived on Greek shores. Since last March, there has been a significant reduction in the flow of refugee and migrant populations from northern Greece due to the enforcement of more rigid border controls along with adoption of the EU-Turkey agreement.

  • Although the proportion of children arriving in Greece slightly decreased in April, they still count for more than one in three among new arrivals in Greece, and around 40 per cent of those remaining stranded along the Western Balkans.

  • Amidst these new dynamics, in April 2016, more than 1,700 children were able to rest and play in UNICEF-supported child-friendly spaces and child and family support hubs and received psychosocial support in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia.

  • Also in April, close to 290 babies and infants, and nearly 340 mothers and pregnant women benefitted from infant and young child feeding counselling and emotional and psychosocial support in six UNICEF-supported mother-and-baby spaces.

  • Following the significant change in the situation in south-eastern Europe, UNICEF is revising its funding needs and programmatic response to adapt to the needs of refugee and migrant children in Greece, Turkey and other European countries. One of the main challenges in the current situation though is reaching” invisible” refugee and migrant children, taking dangerous illegal routes and facing heightened risks of abuse, exploitation and trafficking.

SITUATION IN NUMBERS

184,415 # of arrivals in Europe by sea in 2016 (UNHCR, 2 May 2016)
154,914 # of arrivals by sea through Greece in 2016 (UNHCR, 1 May 2016)

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

Between 1 January and 28 April 2016, 184,415 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by sea in Europe, 85 per cent of them on Greek shores. Although the proportion of children arriving in Greece has slightly decreased in April 2016, they continued counting for more than one in three among new arrivals in Greece, and around 40 per cent of those remaining stranded along the Western Balkans. An estimated 20 per cent of children, who arrived on Greek islands during the past month, were babies and small children below four years of age, while another 10 per cent were unaccompanied. Since the beginning of 2016, Greek authorities have registered around 1,400 unaccompanied and separated children (UASC), but their actual number may be higher as many of them may have registered as adults in order not to be stopped on their journey towards Europe.

According to recent data released by Eurostat, however, in 2015, some 96,500 UASC (mostly from Afghanistan, but also Syria, Eritrea and Iraq) sought asylum in Europe- this is one in four of all child asylum applications for the same period of time, and represents a four-fold increase compared to 2014. Half of all refugee and migrant UASC claimed asylum in Germany and Sweden, followed by Hungary, Austria, Italy, Norway and Belgium.

The number of stranded people in the Western Balkans has reduced significantly during the month of April, as many of them continued their journey towards other European countries, taking more risky and dangerous illegal routes. Even in Serbia, where around 2,000 people became stranded in March, at the end of April there were less than 200 people left. Insufficient medical care and information on the available legal protection in asylum centres along the Western Balkans remain an issue, but the most significant challenge relates to all the “invisible” refugee and migrant children, taking dangerous illegal routes and facing heightened risks of abuse, exploitation and trafficking.

Around 22,000 children remain stranded in Greece. Some 3,000 of them remain in overcrowded reception and temporary accommodation facilities on Greek islands, while 4,000 children continue living in appalling conditions in Eidomeni, at the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. UNICEF is concerned about the lack of adequate protection standards and safe space for children in many accommodation centres in Greece, where children represent up to 55 per cent of the residents. Moreover, nearly 400 registered UASC remain outside the protection system awaiting for appropriate accommodation.

UNICEF continues to follow closely the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement. Although the three rounds of returns from Greece to Turkey in April included mostly single men, there were six children (including 1 UASC), and UNICEF has been present at all points of arrival on Turkish coasts and maintains monitoring and outreach capacity to support women and child returnees.

In Germany, UNICEF has noted with concern that while an increasing number of school-aged refugee and migrant children are gradually being integrated in mainstream schools, many younger children are being left with few, if any, learning opportunities, as evidenced by a recent study on the integration of refugee children in German day care centers.1 At the same time, a very positive development has been the effort by the German Federal Centre for Health Education to support the right to health of refugee families with the development of richly illustrated, multilingual materials, which among other things cover infants and young children feeding, child diseases early detection and immunization, dental health, aspects of child development and accident prevention.