Over half million refugees reach Greece this year, says UN

Over 500,000 refugees reach Greek shores in this year alone, and numbers continue to rise at very quick pace

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Over 500,000 refugees, reach Greece this year, arrival rate rising, says UN

A total of 507,825 refugees have reached Greece throughout the year, this number continues to rise at a very quick pace, according to UN reports. With 8,000 refugees reaching Greece on Monday alone, in a rush to avoid bearing the harsh conditions of winter.  

On Friday (16/10) over 8,900 migrants crossed over into Greece, on Saturday (17/10) there were more than 9,100 arrivals, and on Sunday (18/10), arrivals had reached approximately 9,200.

In all, 27,000 migrants entered Greece last weekend, most of whom arrived on the island of Lesvos (16,448). The island of Chios, which previously saw arrivals of approximately 300-500 migrants a day, over the weekend, witnessed the arrival of over 4,300 migrants.

According to UN refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming, 27,500 refugees continue to stay in transit on the Greek islands near Turkey, in where hundreds of thousands have come. Many of these refugees are fearful that borders they are set to cross when heading towards Northern Europe will once again be closed. Whereas, migrants were previously able to pass from Croatia into Slovenia after Slovenia had closed off its border with Croatia.

Fleming speaks of the vast amounts of refugees coming in by saying in a news briefing, ‘’with the arrival yesterday (Monday) of 8,000 people, bringing the total to 502,000. Obviously we knew this was coming, but we do see a spike in arrivals in Greece.’’

According to reports by the U.N High Commissioner for Refugees, in total over 643,000 refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe this year. A little over 3,000 have reportedly died along the way.

According to reports by UNHCR, a majority of these refugees have fled because of their need for protection from conditions of war in their countries. These refugees include Syrians, Iraqis and Eritreans.

According to reports by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), there have been a total of 25 deaths reported in the Aegan Sea this week, in where many of these were children.

Refugees continue to flow in north through the Balkans from Greece. However, Hungary closed off its border with Croatia on Friday in order to stop the entering of refugees. Also, Slovenia has placed daily limits to the number of refugees who are entering from Croatia, leaving thousands of them to be left out in poor weather conditions.

On Tuesday, Slovenia made clear of its plans to put their army into action to help guard its border and has also sought assistance from fellow members of the EU. A ministry official of Slovenia has said in the event of the possibility of an increased influx of refugees,"we cannot exclude the possibility of safeguarding border crossings with physical obstacles.’’ These new measures and plans have come as 5,000 migrants entered Slovenia from Croatia, after 8,000 had already entered on Monday, according to the Interior Ministry of Slovenia.   

"Those borders, the Croatian border, the Slovenian border, have reopened and you've all read what some people suffered through...People were just soaked to the bone, it was raining, it was cold, it was miserable," Fleming has said of the whole situation.

A programme of the European Union plans to distribute 160,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other participating EU countries in the coming months. So far, only a first group of 19 Eritrean asylum seekers has gone to Sweden from Italy.

Greece isn’t the only European country receiving a high number of refugees. According to the International Organisation for Migration, starting from the beginning of 2015 till October, Italy has received 139,711, Malta has received 105 and Spain has received 2,819 refugees. The estimated total of those who arrived in Europe by sea is believed to be 651,132. Although numbers are expected to rise in the days ahead. The number of deaths is said to be 3,138, according to IMO.