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UNHCR Europe Monthly Report (August 2019)

Situation Report
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Just over 13,400 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe via the three Mediterranean routes in August 2019. In the first eight months of the year, the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe by these three routes dropped by 31% from 87,300 in 2018 to 60,600 in 2019. The primary changes compared to last year include further reduced arrivals to Europe from Libya following the limitations in access by Italian ports for disembarkation of rescued persons as of June 2018; the formalization of the Libyan Search and Rescue Region, resulting in more of those rescued or intercepted off the Libyan coast being disembarked in Libya; as well as reduced arrivals to Spain due to increased measures by Morocco to prevent departures by sea and increased cooperation between Spain and Morocco on search and rescue. As of the end of August, most refugees and migrants entering Europe via the Mediterranean routes did so via Greece.

Greece: In August, some 9,300 people arrived by sea and land. This is the highest number of arrivals since the Turkey-EU Statement was introduced in March 2016. The Turkish Coast Guard reported intercepting or rescuing over 8,300 people in the Aegean in August (roughly 52% of those trying to cross). One reason for the increase was a larger number of Afghans and Syrians crossing the sea from Turkey compared to July. In the first eight months of 2019, some 33,600 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece by land and sea, a slight increase (6%) compared to the same period in 2018 (31,600). Some 39% of those who have arrived by sea in Greece so far have been from Afghanistan, along with 21% from the Syrian Arab Republic and 9% from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many people have arrived in family groups and so far 40% of arrivals have been men, 24% women, and 36% children.

Spain: In the first eight months of 2019, some 19,600 refugees and migrants arrived in Spain, 44% less than the same period in 2018 (34,700). Sea arrivals (48% less) have decreased more than arrivals at the enclaves (15% less). The reduction in numbers of arrivals follow increased cooperation between Spain and Morocco on search and rescue as well as further measures to prevent departures from North Africa. In the first eight months of 2019, most people arriving in Spain were from Morocco (30%), Mali (14%), Guinea (13%), Côte d’Ivoire (11%) and Senegal (8%).

Italy: Some 5,100 refugees and migrants arrived by sea in Italy in the first eight months of 2019, a 75% decrease from 20,100 in the same period of 2018. In addition to the decrease in sea arrivals from Libya, the number of people crossing from Tunisia (mostly Tunisians) has also dropped by 67% to 1,300 in the first eight months of 2019 from some 3,900 in the same period during 2018. While in previous years the vast majority of people arriving by sea to Italy had departed from Libya, in the eight months of 2019 around 26% of people who reached Italy by sea departed from Libya, 36% from Tunisia, 21% from Turkey, 10% from Algeria and 7% from Greece. As a result, the primary nationalities arriving in Italy were Tunisians (26%), Pakistanis (16%), Ivoirians (10%) and Algerians (10%). The primary nationalities arriving in Italy from Libya in this period were Bangladeshis, Sudanese and Ivoirians.

Malta: While the number of sea arrivals from Libya to Italy had decreased in the first eight months of 2019, those arriving to Malta had increased as more regular disembarkation of people rescued after departing from Libya continued. So far this year, some 2,200 refugees and migrants have arrived in Malta by sea after departing from Libya (compared to 850 during the same period of 2018). Some 69% of sea arrivals to Malta in 2019 were rescued in the Maltese Search and Rescue Region, almost all by the Armed Forces of Malta. Most people who were disembarked in Malta after departing from Libya were from Sudan (48%), Eritrea (8%), and Nigeria (5%).

Western Balkans: In North Macedonia, a daily average of 135 new arrivals (4,200 individuals) was observed by UNHCR and partners during August (17% less than the average of 164 per day in July), primarily arriving from Greece and most people reported coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. Some 17,300 people have been recorded as having arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina irregularly this year, a 45% increase compared to the same period last year. Most people reported coming from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq and smaller percentages from Iran, Syria, Algeria or Bangladesh and already having transited through other countries in the region, often for a long period of time. In Serbia, UNHCR and partners observed some 16,400 new arrivals in 2019, including some 2,200 unaccompanied or separated children. The primary nationalities have been Pakistanis and Afghans, followed by Bangladeshis. At the end of August approximately 7,000 refugees and migrants were estimated to be in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Push-backs continue to be widely reported across the region, including the use of violence, while at least 20 people are known to have died along the route so far this year, including while trying to hide in vehicles to cross borders and drowning in border rivers.

Dead and missing: In the first eight months of 2019, 913 people are believed to have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean sea on their way to Europe. The majority of deaths took place in the Central Mediterranean where 644 people were believed to have died, 68 of which occurred in August. A further 212 people are believed to have died at sea between North Africa and Spain, and 57 people along the short route between Turkey and Greece.

Some 63 deaths have been reported along land routes so far in 2019 with 32 of these occurring around the Greece-Turkey land border, of which 11 have drowned in the Evros River.