Greece - As winter nears its end, IOM estimates irregular migrant and refugee arrivals are now approaching 130,000 in the Mediterranean. The number, reached in nine weeks, falls just short of the total for all seaborne arrivals in Europe as recently as 2014.
The numbers still fall far short of 2105’s total, when over one million seaborne arrivals were recorded. But with ten months left, it now appears likely that last year’s total will be surpassed, possibly before the end of the summer.
Through February 29, unofficial data of arrivals to Greece since January 1, 2015 are at 968,140. With close to 2,000 per day arriving through the first 60 days of 2016, a mark of one million seaborne arrivals in Greece could be met as soon as mid-March, IOM researchers believe.
On a brighter note, 2016’s estimated total of 418 deaths of migrants and refugees at sea is slightly lower than at this time in 2015 – by ten victims. It should be noted that 2015 began with many more migrants crossing the deadly route linking North Africa to Italy. Several large shipwrecks were also recorded in both January and February 2015.
2016’s lower total number of fatalities reflects the surge in crossings between Turkey and Greece. IOM estimates that of 321 people who have died in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2016’s first nine weeks, 77 were children – an average exceeding one per day. Thirteen children died on this route in February; 64 in January.
IOM’s Ivona Zakoska Monday provided a statistical update on numbers of persons intending to seek asylum in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), registered by authorities through 28 February 2016.
“The in- and outflows have decreased due to the restrictive policies enforced by the countries along the route,” she said. “Migrants of Syrian and Iraqi origin now spend several days waiting to enter the country and/or at the reception center in Gevgelija on the FYRoM side of the border before proceeding.”
There have also been 600 Afghan nationals at a reception centre in Tabanovice since February 19th, she added.
According to Greek coastguard, 67,415 migrants and refugees crossed into Greece in January 2016 and 52,118 in February 2016. This indicates about 2,140 per day in January and roughly 1,800 in January, when seas were rougher.
The three largest nationalities registered were Syria (55,858), Afghanistan (31,550) and Iraq (20,484). There were also 3,703 from Iran, 3,646 from Pakistan and 916 from Palestine. Other nationalities included Bangladeshis (342), Moroccans (189), Nepalis (38), Gambians (11) and Dominican Republic nationals (90). There were also, remarkably, four arrivals from Viet Nam and one from Cuba.
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