UNHCR Regional Bureau Europe: Weekly Report (Updated August 18, 2016 5:35 PM)
Trends of Sea Arrivals
Between 08 and 14 August, 698 refugees and migrants crossed the sea from Turkey to the Greek islands – a very slight increase from the 682 who arrived the previous week. So far in August, 1,380 people have arrived by sea in Greece and the average number of daily arrivals has been 99 compared with 60 in July. Most arrivals in August so far have been to Chios, Lesvos and Kalymnos.
As of 14 August, 161,599 refugees and migrants have arrived by sea in Greece with 48% from the Syrian Arab Republic, 25% from Afghanistan and 15% from Iraq.
During the reporting period, 1,778 refugees and migrants arrived by sea in Italy between 08 and 14 August – a significant decrease from the 5,933 that arrived the previous week – with no arrivals for four days during the week. Most had departed from Egypt and Libya, but smaller numbers were also recorded as having departed from Turkey, Greece and Tunisia. As of 14 August, 101,485 refugees and migrants have arrived by sea to Italy compared to 116,149 at the end of August 2015. Some of the top nationalities represented among arrivals to Italy 20% are from Nigeria, 12% are from Eritrea, and 7% are each from Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan and Guinea. So far in August, 7,711 people have arrived in Italy with an average number of daily arrivals of 551 compared to 760 in July.
Situation in Greece
The small increase of refugees and migrants arriving on the Aegean islands have placed additional pressure on the already overstretched reception facilities. A total of 698 new arrivals were recorded on the islands, 16 more than in the previous week. Arrivals fluctuated, with 174 arrivals on 10 August and only 17 new arrivals on 14 August.
On Chios, maximum capacity has been reached in Vial Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) and the informal sites Souda, Dipethe, thus posing challenges in sheltering new arrivals. A new site on Chios is being prepared with the support of UNHCR but will not be ready for at least three months. As part of the decongestion efforts on the islands, the Government is planning to transfer 1,000 – 2,000 asylum-seekers issued with asylum cards (mainly Syrians) to sites on the mainland. Arrivals to Kalymnos have increased significantly with 137 people reaching the island in the first two weeks of August. On Lesvos, following concerns regarding fraudulent documents used to purchase ferry tickets, authorities are now checking documents up to two hours ahead of boarding.
On the mainland, spontaneous movements on the mainland between sites may be attributed to lack of uniformity in services provided at different sites and the perception among asylum-seekers that if they move to another site they will have better access to basic services and asylum procedure.
In Central Greece, UNHCR conducted information sessions on next steps after pre-registration in several sites.
While waiting for notification via text message of their appointment with the Regional Asylum Office, impatience is on the rise among asylum-seekers. Official results from the pre-registration exercise following its closure on 25 July, are expected to be finalized by the Greek Asylum Service early next week. The results of which are likely to indicate an overall reduction in the total estimated asylum-seeking population on the mainland.
The accommodation capacity in support of the EU’s relocation programme has reached 9,768 places, representing 49 % of the 20,000 target of UNHCR and partners under the EC-funded project.