Greece + 24 more

UNHCR Regional Bureau Europe: Weekly Report (April 3, 2017 11:47 AM)


Key Figures

Mediterranean 28,378 arrivals by sea in 2017
905 dead/missing in 2017

Trends of Arrivals in the Mediterranean

From 20 to 26 March, 414 persons arrived by sea to Greece. Chios recorded the majority of sea arrivals (224), followed by Lesvos (72) and Leros (72). A total of 3,783 persons reached the Greek shores from 01 January until 26 March 2017.

Between 01 January and 26 March 2017, 21,894 persons arrived in Italy by sea (plus 45 per cent compared to the sea arrivals in the same period last year). During the week, 5,665 persons (including over 500 unaccompanied and separated children/UASC) disembarked in various ports of southern Italy. New arrivals departed from Libya and mainly originate from sub-Saharan African countries, but also from Morocco and Bangladesh. Furthermore, on 21 March, 10 Tunisian nationals spontaneously reached shore in western Sicily and were subsequently transferred to the hotspot in Taranto, while on 26 March 28 persons originating from Pakistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Somalia spontaneously reached Porto Badisco, Lecce and were subsequently transferred to the Centro di Primo Soccorso e Accoglienza (CPSA) Don Tonino Bello for identification.

On 23 March, at least two shipwrecks were reported off the Libyan coast. NGOs reported that five corpses of young men were recovered some 14 miles off the Libyan coast near two empty and partially submerged rubber dinghies. A third boat also called the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome asking for help, with NGOs consequently patrolling the area, for the time being there are no reports about this boat. Vincent Cochetel, Director of UNHCR’s Europe Bureau, claimed that defeating the business model of traffickers requires the existence of credible legal pathways for those in need of international protection, including through resettlement, family reunification programmes and private sponsorship.

It is estimated that at least 205 are dead or missing bringing the total number of 811 from January to 26 March 2017. As of 28 March, 959 people have died or went missing while trying to reach Europe by sea, compared to 5,022 in the whole of 2016.

In Spain, arrivals have increased and as of 26 March some 4,200 persons arrived since January 2017 (110 per cent of increase compared to same period of last year), 55 per cent by sea (2,300) and 45 per cent by land to Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla (1,900). In the reporting period 240 persons arrived by sea. While the majority were rescued by the Spanish Rescue Agency in the high seas and transferred to different points of the Andalusian coast, a significant number of spontaneous arrivals were registered in Cádiz and Melilla. Most sea arrivals originated from western African countries, namely Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia and Guinea. On 24 March a small inflatable boat, reportedly carrying seven persons (all males from Sub-Saharan countries) capsized, trying to reach the Spanish shores through the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco. The Spanish Rescue Agency rescued three survivors and recovered three dead bodies in the Mediterranean (one is still missing). UNHCR, present at the landing of two other boats rescued that day and carrying 24 persons (4 women, 19 men and 1 little child), remains in contact with Spanish authorities in charge of providing humanitarian aid to survivors and will follow up with them.

In terms of land arrivals to the Spanish enclaves (Ceuta and Melilla), despite ongoing and serious restrictions, Syrians and Palestinians (mainly families) continue to enter through Melilla claiming asylum at the border crossing point (some 500 applications in 2017). Other land arrivals originated from Guinea, Algeria and Cameroon. Reception conditions in the enclaves continue to be of concern. In Ceuta, in the reception centre (510 maximum capacity), over 1,000 persons are waiting to be transferred to the mainland and in Melilla´s reception centre, with a maximum capacity of 490, there are 900 persons (including 300 asylum-seekers and 200 women and children).