Greece + 10 more

Europe’s Refugee Emergency - Update #1 on the situation in Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, 30 June – 1 September 2015

Situation Report
Originally published
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322,500 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe across the Mediterranean Sea in 2015, including approximately 115,500 in Italy (UNHCR figure as of 31 August), 204,954 in Greece (UNHCR figure as of 28 August), 94 in Malta (official figure as of 31 August) and 1,953 in Spain (official figure as of 31 July). The top nationalities are Syrians (49%), Afghans (12%), Eritreans (9%), Nigerians (4%) and Somalis (3%), data as of 28 August for Greece, as of 4 August for Italy, as of 31 August for Malta and as 31 July for Spain.

The increasing number of refugees and migrants (up to 3,000 a day) arriving on the Greek Islands and moving onwards to western and northern European countries through the Western Balkans and Hungary has placed severe pressure on the reception capacities and asylum systems of Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, with thousands of people camping rough without shelter, sanitation, food and water. Governments have struggled to meet the needs of the upsurge over recent days and volunteers from local communities and NGOs have combined efforts to alleviate the conditions.

As a result, UNHCR declared a level 2 emergency for these three countries on 30 June 2015. UNHCR has supported local authorities, NGOs and civil society to manage the situation at the borders, in reception areas, and to improve and accelerate the registration procedures.

This first edition update covers key developments since the declaration of the emergency up to 1 September. The update will be published on a bi-monthly basis


  • In Greece, the reception infrastructure, services and registration procedures are falling dramatically short of needs. At all main entry points, there is a lack of adequate reception conditions resulting in serious hygiene, health and protection risks. The limited capacity to respond creates a tense and dramatic situation.

  • The Ministry of the Interior of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is enhancing its registration system in order to manage this increasingly challenging situation. The electronic procedure is more efficient and protection sensitive. The reception conditions have also been improving.
    However, with the ever growing number of people arriving from Greece, these improvements remain insufficient and additional measures are needed.

  • The Government of Serbia has worked to improve the reception facilities and has established three new refugee information and first-aid points at the green border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the way to the One-Stop Centre in Preševo; near Kanjiža at the border with Hungary; and in the centre of Belgrade, together with UNHCR and partners, to provide information and assistance to refugees. However, in light of the increasing number of arrivals, further efforts are needed.