Refugee/Migrant crisis in Europe situation analysis - January 2016
Registration and entry limits
Several issues are delaying the flow of people along the Balkan migration route, with conditions varying significantly day-to-day. Registration processes in the Greek islands are still inadequate, although backlogs were recently reduced because of lower overall arrival numbers. Bottlenecks have emerged further along the route, due to more stringent checking of documents, and an increase in denials of entry as well as deportations. Austria has limited entries from Slovenia to 3,760 per day, prompting Slovenia to limit train arrivals proportionally from Croatia. (InterNews 5/1/2016) All countries on the route have stepped up denials of entry as well as deportations to the previous country on the route. These delays and large daily variations in numbers pose a challenge to responders’ preparedness.
The main current humanitarian concerns are the selective entry procedures, registration and entry limits and the effect the weather conditions have on the humanitarian response.
Limitations of service provision
Service provision in general continues to be hampered by the rapid transit of migrants and refugees. In recent weeks, people in transit have received medical assistance, but there are concerns that people are refusing or not seeking treatment as they do not want to delay their onward journeys. A continued increase in respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and flu brought on by the winter weather, is possible. People continue to be offered food and warm clothes throughout the transit route; however, shortages of warm clothes, especially adequate warm clothing for young children at reception or transit centres, has been observed. Heating in means of transportation and at reception and resting camps is another concern. On a positive note, collaboration between humanitarian actors within countries has improved in recent weeks.
Recent changes in border checks in destination countries
Several EU member states have temporarily introduced border checks in a bid to stem the migration flow. Most recently Sweden began implementing temporary controls on 4 January, triggering a knock-on effect prompting Denmark to do the same on its border with Germany the same day. These measures could have a further knock-on effect on transit countries in the Balkans.
Selective entry procedures allowing only Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans to pass began in late November 2015 and continue at all major borders from Greece through to Slovenia. This increases the humanitarian community’s concern regarding the fate of migrants and refugees of other nationalities, who are rendered unable to legally continue their journeys beyond Greece. Arrivals from other countries make up around 13% of the registered total and are primarily Moroccan, Iranian, and Pakistani. The most basic needs of those migrants and refugees who are allowed to continue their journey are being met along the route, but the numbers of non-Syrians, non-Afghans and non- Iraqis, their actual needs and even physical locations are not known, given these refugee and migrants’ avoidance of government-provided accommodation. Refugees and migrants from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia are no longer being issued with documents required for onward travel by Greek authorities.