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Migration Flows to Europe – 2017 Overview



Countries of first arrival

More than 186,000 migrants arrived to Europe in 2017 via Mediterranean routes. Approximately 92% of migrants reached European countries by sea (172,362), and the remaining 8% arrived using various land routes. This year Italy has received the majority of all migrants and asylum seekers, with the total of 119,369 accounting for 64% of the overall registered population. However, this is the lowest number of arrivals reported in the past four years in Italy.

The decrease in arrivals in Italy noted in 2017 has been influenced mainly by different bilateral agreements between Libyan and Italian (and European) authorities as two entities representing the main departure and main destination points for migrants who aim to reach Europe by crossing the Central Mediterranean route (read more here). Monthly dynamic in arrivals shows that by the end of June 2017, there were more arrivals to Italy then in 2016, 83,752 and 70,222 respectively. In the late summer, number decreased following the implementation of the new policies related to apprehensions on the sea and support provided to the Libya coast guard, from an average of more than 12,000 monthly arrivals recorded for the second quarter of 2017, to less than 6,000 arrivals per month in the second half of the year.

Overall reducation in flows across the sea is also assosciated with the significant decrease in arrivals to Greece and Bulgaria. In 2017, Greek authorities registered 35,052 new arrivals, an 80% decrease compared to 173,614 recorded in 2016 while apprehensions of irregular migrants in Bulgaria plummeted from 17,187 reported at the end of 2016 to 2,562 at the end of December 2017. In contrast to that, available DTM flow monitoring data indicates more than two fold increase in arrivals to Spain and Cyprus. Between January and December 2017, total of 28,707 migrants reached Spanish territory by sea and land. The latter comprised 22% of the total reported arrivals (28,707) with 6,293 newly registered migrants particularly in Spanish enclaves in Northern Africa, Ceuta and Mellila. At the end of December 2017, Authorities in Cyprus registered 1,078 new irregular migrants and asylum seekers who arrived to the island in approximately 16 independent landings throughout the year (three times increase).

In terms of nationalities registered in two main receiving countries - Greece and Italy, there were no significant changes in the nationality groups detected.

However, the order in the top 10 groups has changed sligtly. In both years, 2016 and 2017, Nigerian nationals were the largest group registered arriving to Italy (21% and 16% respectively). A decrease by 6 percentage points is observed in terms of arrivals from Eritrea (from 11 to 5 per cent). Moreover, in 2016, Somali migrants comprised 6% of the overall arrivals in Italy, while in 2017 there were not reported under the top 10 nationality groups, but were replaced by those arriving from Morocco who comprised 5% of the overall registered population in Italy. The most significant increase is observed in arrivals of Bangladeshi nationals, from 5% recorded in 2016 to 9% registered in 2017 (read here more information on arrivals from Bangladesh).

Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan nationals were the first three nationalities registered arriving to Greece. However, while the percentage of Afghan migrants decreased from 24% in 2016 (2nd reported nationality group) to 12% in 2017 (3rd reported nationality group), percentage of Iraqi nationals increased by 5 percentage points from 15% in 2016 to 20% in 2017. Moreover, in 2017, there was also an increase in arrivals from Algeria (4%), Palestinian Territories (3%), Kuwait (3%) and Cameroon (2%), the nationality groups which were in 2016 counted together with a variety of nationality groups registerd as Other (total of 6%).

The Central Mediterranean route remains the deadliest sea route with reported 2,834 dead and missing migrants in 2017, out of the total of 3,119 that took place in the whole of Mediterranean (the lowest figured reported since 2014, see more here).