European Asylum-Seeker Crisis: Scenarios - Possible developments in transit countries over the next 6−9 months

Report
from Assessment Capacities Project
Published on 04 Nov 2015 View Original

INTRODUCTION

SCENARIOS FOR NOVEMBER 2015 – JULY 2016

This scenario document provides a description of situations that could occur in the coming six to nine months, with their associated humanitarian consequences. The aim is to support strategic planning, create awareness and promote preparedness activities for those responding to this crisis.

In October 2015, ACAPS undertook a scoping study to better understand gaps in information and analysis in the context of the asylum-seeker crisis in Europe. One of the key priorities that emerged from the consultation with humanitarian stakeholders was the need for scenario building, outlining possible developments and anticipated impact on the transit countries over the next six to nine months. At the end of October, three workshops in Athens, Belgrade and Geneva were held to develop and validate these scenarios. See the methodology section for more information on the scenario building process.

CURRENT SITUATION

The number of people making their way to northern EU countries, via Greece and the Balkans, has risen sharply in 2015. A high of around 10,000 per day arrived in Greece during early October. Transit countries (currently Croatia, Greece, FYR Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia but potentially also Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Romania) are under tremendous strain coping with the large numbers of people passing through their borders. The EU is undecided on how many asylumseekers it can welcome.

All those travelling through transit countries are treated in the same manner by most of the host governments and international humanitarian agencies. In some instances Syrians, Iraqis and Eritreans are being fast-tracked. Transit country governments seek to register all people entering their country, although the thoroughness of the registration procedure varies by country and is sometimes waived when the number of arrivals exceeds local capacity. The implementation of the EU’s ‘hotspots’ relocation scheme in Greece in October has resulted in a slower, more thorough processing of asylumseekers.

In October 2015, over 180,000 asylum-seekers entered Greece from Turkey, representing one third of the total arrivals to Greece in 2015 despite deteriorating weather. The majority crossed by sea arriving at the islands of Agathanisi, Chios, Crete, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kos, Lesvos, Leros, Patmos, Psara, Rhodes, Samos, Samothrace, Symi and Tilos. The current route for the majority of asylum-seekers is through Greece, FYR Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia where they cross into Austria (see map page 4). Changes to the route are precipitated by the border closures. Although a small proportion of asylum-seekers indicate their intention to apply for asylum in one or more of the transit countries during the registration process, almost none follow up their applications. There have been few incidents of violence between host communities and those in transit, considering the large scale of movement, and much of the assistance provided to the asylum-seekers has come from local people. The financial toll on the transit countries is significant especially in Greece, FYR Macedonia and Serbia.

1 For the purpose of this report the term ‘asylum-seeker’ is used to refer to all those transiting to Europe, although the majority have not (yet) stated their intention to apply for asylum.