Saturday

13th Apr 2024

Winter may not deter new refugee arrivals in EU

  • War in Syria is one of the main drivers of the refugee exodus to Europe (Photo: icrc.org)

Approaching winter months may not deter people seeking refuge in Europe as the conflict in Syria rages on and living conditions in refugee camps worsen.

A spokesperson from the United Nations refugee organisation in Greece told this website on Friday (18 September) that a reduction in arrivals normally occurs in November.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“But it is really not safe to predict what will happen this year”, she said, adding that a change in weather might not deter people who are becoming increasingly desperate.

On a global scale, some 60 million people are now displaced, the largest since WWII. Of those, some 20 million are in the EU neighborhood.

“What we are witnessing today in Europe and in Greece is just a reflection of the increase in numbers of refugees on the global level”, she said, adding that the conflict in Syria is the biggest driver.

Just under 470,000 people crossed by sea to reach the EU in search of a safe haven this year. Around 40 percent came from Syria, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told MEPs in the European parliament earlier this week that the spike in numbers is rooted in the loss of hope, dire living conditions, and a dramatic decrease in international aid.

“People are not allowed to work, have no way to organise their lives, and have had their savings disappeared and their living conditions deteriorate more and more. To make things worse, we in 2015 have witnessed a decrease in international assistance”, he said.

Some 4 million Syrian refugees are now in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt

The World Food Programme has had to slash food assistance by 40 percent and cut one-third of Syrian refugees from its food voucher programme. Over 220,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan stopped receiving food aid in September.

Guterres said massive structural and economic support for the host nations, along with more aid to the refugees, was needed as “absolute preconditions [for] all these flows to be contained”.

EU ministers, for their part, agreed on Monday to increase the European union regional trust fund in response to the Syrian crisis and provide support for Syria and its neighboring countries.

The fund has €41 million. Most of it has come from the European Union budget. Only Germany (€5 million) and Italy (€3 million) have contributed, so far.

Turkey and Syria

Turkey’s ambassador to the EU, Selim Yenel, told EUobserver that one million more people could arrive in Europe, should the conflict in Syria worsen.

“If Aleppo falls to the regime or to ISIS, we could have another flood of a million people from one of the biggest cities in Syria.”

Turkey has spent around $6 billion in receiving two million Syrian refugees. Yenel says the EU, along with member state contributions, has amounted to $200 million.

“We have been facing these issues for the last four years on our own and the most we got was a pat on the back, saying ‘you are doing a good job, keep up the good work’ and now that the EU is facing a few thousand refugees, they are panicking”, he said.

On Friday, foreign ministers from Luxembourg, Austria, and Germany arrived in Ankara to discuss the issues. And last week, EU council president Donald Tusk also visited Turkey.

Yenel says more needs to be done but refused any notion of setting up an EU-funded reception centre in Turkey.

Instead he said people need access to education and health services and legal channels to get to the EU.

As for allowing Syrian refugees to work in Turkey, he said “we are working on it”.

Analysis

MEPs set to rubber-stamp new restrictive phase of EU asylum

The European Parliament is set to rubber stamp a new internal EU management system on asylum. Years in the making, the overhaul has been described as a game-changer by EU institutions determined to reach an agreement ahead of June's elections.

EU 'ready' to support Cyprus on Lebanon migration

The EU is ready to offer extra support to Cyprus as the Mediterranean island faces a sharp increase in refugees arriving from Lebanon, a spokesperson for the EU executive told reporters on Thursday (4 April).

Investigation

How migrants risk becoming drug addicts along Balkan route

Psychotropic drug abuse is one of the many dangers migrants face along the Balkan route. In overcrowded camps, doctors prescribe tranquilisers to calm people down. And black market circuits and pharmacies selling drugs without prescription contribute to the issue.

EU 'ready' to support Cyprus on Lebanon migration

The EU is ready to offer extra support to Cyprus as the Mediterranean island faces a sharp increase in refugees arriving from Lebanon, a spokesperson for the EU executive told reporters on Thursday (4 April).

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us