Syrians arriving to Greek islands decline, Iraqis rise

EU border agency, Frontex, says Syrian asylum into Greece has declined while Iraqi asylum has increased

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Children sleep on the deck of a rescue ship, after a group of about 100 Syrian refugees were retrieved by a Frontex patrol boat near the Greek island of Oinousses on January 28, 2016

The number of Syrians arriving on Greek islands in the hope of claiming asylum in Europe has declined in recent months, while Iraqi arrivals had risen, the European Union border agency said on Thursday.

The realisation of the change in refugee nationalities slightly reflects the improvement of refugee registration and identification in Greece over the last quarter.

Europe has failed to control the influx of refugees, with more than one million arriving in Europe last year.

Most of the refugees have been heading towards Germany for its lively economy in the region.

Compared to some 500 million people living in the EU, the number remain low, however strict immigration policies of some member states have generated uneven distribution of arrivals to other countries, resulting in added pressure on security services, as well as fuelling hatred amongst anti-refugee nationalists.

The solution on how to handle the influx has included debates on distinguishing and accepting people fleeing war while rejecting refugees seeking better lives without being under immediate threat.

"The percentage of declared Syrians among all of the migrants landing on the Greek islands has fallen considerably in the last several months," Frontex said, adding that some 39 percent of those arriving in Greece in December were Syrians, compared to 43 percent in November and 51 percent in October.

In hope of standing a higher chance of successful asylum in applications, a common answer to the question of nationality has been “Syrian,” with many people fleeing the five-year-old civil war in Syria out of fear for their lives.

Frontex said that more than a quarter of those landing in Greece were Afghans, who are less likely considered to be given asylum compared to those coming from Syria or Iraq, where some territories are occupied by DAESH.

TRTWorld, Reuters