Greek refugee arrivals spike 2100% in January

ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

Refugees and migrants disembark from the ferry 'Eleftherios Venizelos' at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, 14 January 2016. The ship arrived in the port of Piraeus carrying some 1000 refugees and migrants that had landed the previous days on the Greek island of Lesvos (Lesbos), crossing from Turkey.

Almost 90 per cent of the newly arrived migrants are nationals coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.


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The European refugee crisis is getting worse as since the beginning of 2016, 31,244 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece by sea.

According to figures provided by the Greek Coast Guard, this is some 21 times as many as the 1,472 recorded by the Coast Guard for the whole of January 2015.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that some 48 per cent  of Greece’s 2016 arrivals have been Syrians, 29 per cent  Afghans, 12 per cent  Iraqis, 3 per cent  Pakistanis and 2 per cent  Iranians. Other nationalities have included Algerians, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Eritreans, Lebanese and Moroccans.

Overall, almost 90 per cent of the newly arrived migrants are refugees and are allowed to cross Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). According to the Greek police, almost 31,100 have already crossed the Greek-FYROM borders this month.

However, more and more European countries are imposing border controls while Germany already clarified that Afghan nationals will not be considered as refugees and they may face the risk of being sent back to Afghanistan in case they want to apply for asylum in Germany.

Aegean death toll continues to rise

IOM also reported that the death toll in the Aegean has also continued to rise with worsening weather conditions. Three shipwrecks have been recorded since January 15th, when the Greek Coast Guard rescued 20 Syrian and Iraqi migrants from a boat which capsized off Agathonisi Island. Three children – two boys and one girl – lost their lives.

On the same day the Coast Guard rescued 63 migrants from another boat which capsized off Farmakonisi Island. One infant died.

On Saturday (16/01) a survivor from another shipwreck swam to Samos Island and told authorities that he had been on board a boat with 15 other migrants. The Coast Guard launched a search and rescue operation and six bodies were recovered.

EU Turkey agreement

The EU had reached an agreement with Turkey in 2015, to lower the refugee influx in Europe. The Union pledged to give 3 billion euros to Turkish authorities to be able to withstand the influx.

However, the promised aid is being delayed and yesterday, Turkish daily, Daily Sabah, reported that the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the EU needs to provide the resources or else refugees will continue to enter Europe.

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