Seven thousand refugees entering Greece each day

IOM and UN officials warn that EU refugee crisis could become more ‘deadly’ as winter approaches

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Refugees arrive by boat on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey

The International Organisation for Migration reported on Saturday that more than 7,000 refugee have reached Greece from Turkey each day in the last week.

The IOM also warned that the Syrian Civil War will become “more deadly” due to the fact that winter is approaching.

An average of 4,500 refugees reached the Greek islands each day in September with the aim of crossing into wealthier EU countries.

“Despite the increased number of arrivals on the island of Lesvos, the congestion on the island has declined significantly. This is due in part to the fact that 70 per cent of migrants and refugees who arrived in Greece last week immediately crossed into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at Greece’s Idomeni border,” the IOM said in a press release on Saturday.

Turkish authorities recently launched a crackdown on people smugglers.

Several million Syrian refugees have been living in camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.

Over 580,000 refugees have been recorded as having crossed into the EU this year mostly from Syrian, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

The number, according to the IOM, is double that in 2014 and this year is deadliest on record for the refugees with at least 3,000 refugee dying while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

Refugees arrive by boat to the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey, on October 10, 2015 / Photo by AFP

IOM spokesman Joel Millman said that with the coming of winter the number deaths are expected to go up, due to deaths from hypothermia and other cold-related conditions.

“Winter is going to be a lot more deadly,” Millman said, adding, “It’s pretty rough out there.”

Hungarian President Janos Ader said on Friday that “the humanitarian aspects are very important, especially with the coming winter ... we would be making a big political mistake if we neglect the criminal and national security aspects of this migration wave.”

“Syrians are now travelling faster from the islands to the border because they can afford it. They buy tickets for boats to Athens, buses straight to the border and sometimes even pay for taxis that can cost up to EUR 700 a family from Athens to the border,” the IOM stated in its press release.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned the EU to take measures to deal with the cold faced by refugees that could lead to more deaths.

“This is a chaotic situation that is terrible for the countries, creates tension among countries and at the same time is horrible for the people,” Mr. Guterres told a news conference on Friday.

“With the kind of weather that you have in Balkans, this can be a tragedy at any moment. And there is no easy response to that unless you have a mechanism to control things from the starting point,” Mr. Guterres said.

TRTWorld and agencies