Trends and key figures
Between 01 January 2017 and 31 August 2017, 130,400 refugees and migrants arrived by sea and land to Europe (Greece, Italy, Spain and Cyprus only, including arrivals to the Canary Islands and by land to Spain). Arrivals by sea in this period comprised of 16% children, 12% women and 72% men. In August, there was a decrease in the number of refugees and migrants entering Europe via the Central Mediterranean route to Italy (by 81%) compared to the same month last year and an increase through the Western Mediterranean route to Spain by 105% compared to August 2016 (from 1,533 to 3,144). Meanwhile arrivals through the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece increased during August 2017 in comparison to last year.
Between 1 January and 31 August, over 99,100 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea, including over 13,200 unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) (13% of sea arrivals). With reduced arrivals in Italy in July and August, especially from Libya, arrivals by sea in Italy in 2017 have dropped below those from the same period in 2016 by 14%. In Spain, over 15,300 persons have arrived by sea and land between January and August 2017 compared to 7,200 in the same period last year, an 111% increase. The number of arrivals to Andalucía, in southern Spain, (6,000), is 212% higher than the same period last year (3,200). All arrivals had departed reportedly from Moroccan coast. Since June, 2,700 sea and land arrivals were registered in Spain. An increasing number of Syrian families continue to arrive in Melilla. In the first six months of 2017, some 1,500 asylum applications were lodged at Madrid airport, quadrupling the number of applications at the airport compared to during the course of 2016.
As of 31 August 2017, 15,300 refugees and migrants had reached Greek shores in 2017, compared to 163,700 arriving in the same period last year (a 91% reduction). Arrivals mainly originate from the Syrian Arab Republic (40%) and Iraq (16%). In August, 3,700 people arrived by sea in Greece, an increase of 64% from arrivals in July. 65% of arrivals in August are Syrian and Iraqi nationals. Arrivals in August have been to Samos (33%), followed by Lesvos (28%), Chios (15%), and the South Dodecanese islands (24%). Recent arrivals of mostly Syrian and Iraqi families include very high numbers of pregnant women, people with disabilities and serious medical cases. In addition to the sea arrivals, an estimated 2,200 people have arrived this year at the Evros Greek-Turkish land border, based on provisional data as of 31 August 2017.
According to Turkish authorities, the Turkish Coast Guard (TCG) rescued/intercepted 2,667 people during August. The total number of rescues/interceptions by the Turkish Coast Guard of persons mostly headed to Greece by sea reached 12,061 as of 31 August 2017 since the beginning of the year. The figures rose from 1,743 persons in July 2017 to 2,667 persons in August 2017, which represents a 53% increase. Together with August figures, interceptions at the Greek and Bulgarian land borders increased to 17,067 persons since the beginning of the year.
Since January 2017, UNHCR and partners have observed a trend of a significant number of irregular backward movements of refugees and migrants departing Serbia for Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and subsequently to Greece. According to testimonies, their movements were mostly voluntary, with the intention to return — most of them to Greece, but some only to Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in order to attempt irregular onwards movements. Individuals have stated poor living conditions in transit centres, access to relocation and family reunification in Greece among reasons for voluntary irregular backwards movements.
Dead and missing: as of 31 August 2017, an estimated 2,428 people have died or gone missing while trying to reach Europe by sea, compared to 3,180 for the same period in 2016.
Relocation: according to the European Commission (EC), 27,228 asylum-seekers have been relocated from Greece and Italy as of 29 August 2017, including 19,016 from Greece (out of 66,400 originally foreseen, 28% of the total) and 8,212 from Italy (out of 39,600 originally foreseen, 20% of the total) respectively.
Returns: In August, 18 people were returned from Greece to Turkey on the basis of the EU-TUR Statement. The total number of people returned under the statement is 1,307 as of 31 August 2017.