UNHCR Regional update - Europe
Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme
A. Situational analysis including new developments
In Europe, between January and July 2017, over 115,000 people are known to have arrived irregularly by sea, including 95,200 to Italy, 11,500 to Greece and 8,600 to Spain. The number of refugees and migrants arriving via the Mediterranean Sea decreased as compared to the same timeframe in 2016, largely due to a reduction in the numbers crossing the sea to Greece. In Italy, the overall number of arrivals during the first seven months of 2017 remained at a similar level to the previous year, while there was an increase in arrivals to Spain compared to 2016.
It is estimated that over 2,400 refugees and migrants died or went missing while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in the first seven months of the year, as compared to over 3,000 the same period in 2016. Some 17 per cent of the total arrivals by sea in Europe were children, and over a quarter of them were unaccompanied and separated. In Italy, nearly 12,700 unaccompanied and separated children made the dangerous journey across the sea between January and July 2017, representing 13 per cent of all arrivals to Italy and in line with the number that arrived during the same period in 2016.
Onward movements across Europe continued in 2017, although at a much lower rate compared to 2016. Those arriving mostly travelled from Greece to Serbia, through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or crossed from Bulgaria into Serbia in order to reach other European Union Member States. A small number of people also attempted to return to Greece from Serbia through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Turkey continues to host the largest number of refugees worldwide, with 3.1 million Syrians and 320,000 refugees and others of concern of various nationalities. Between January and June 2017, 38 European countries received some 315,500 new asylum applications, representing a 54 per cent decrease compared to the same period in 2016. Over 80 per cent of these applications were lodged in European Union Member States, primarily in Germany (91,200) and Italy (46,300). Asylum applicants in 2017 mainly originated from the Syrian Arab Republic (31,650), Afghanistan (15,990) and Nigeria (14,550).
Since the conflict in Ukraine began in 2014, nearly 1.6 million people have been internally displaced and over 480,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum in other countries, including the Russian Federation (427,240), Italy (10,410), Germany (10,210), Spain (8,100), Poland (4,470), France (3,730) and Sweden (3,360). More than 1.4 million applications for other forms of legal stay were also submitted by Ukrainians, mainly in the Russian Federation, as well as in Belarus and Poland. In 2017, the situation in eastern Ukraine has further deteriorated, with security incidents on the rise.