Monday

25th Mar 2019

More refugees arriving in Italy than Greece

  • Migrant numbers have remained stable in Italy, but dropped dramatically in Greece (Photo: Frontex)

More migrants trying to make their way into Europe are arriving in Italy than Greece for the first time in a year, according to the latest UN figures.

While 9,149 migrants arrived to the shores of Italy in April, Greece received 3,462 people, figures of the UN's refugee agency show.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In March, before the EU-Turkey deal came into force, under which Ankara pledged to take back migrants from Greece, 26,971 people arrived to Greece, while 9,676 arrived to Italy.

Arrivals through the Aegean Sea have dropped after the EU-Turkey deal kicked in.

Last year in April, 13,556 migrants made their way to Greece, while 16,063 people made their way to Italy from Africa in the hope of seeking asylum in the EU.

But migrants arriving in Italy are not coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the three major groups trying their luck through Greece.

Asylum seekers making their way through the Mediterranean are primarily from Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia and other Sub-Saharan African nations.

Concerns that migrants will increasingly take the Italian route have prompted fears of another mass influx, leading Austria to plan to restrict access through the its Brenner border crossing with Italy.

The EU Commission has expressed concern over the effect this could have on the viability of the passport-free Schengen zone.

Merkel under pressure

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country has accepted more than one million asylum seekers since last summer, was instrumental in pushing the EU-Turkey deal.

Since the deal was put in place, arrivals in Germany have rapidly declined. About 16,000 migrants arrived in April, compared with 120,000 arrivals last December.

But despite the deal's apparent success at stemming the flow of migrants, two-thirds of Germans oppose a fourth term for Merkel.

Only 36 percent of respondents to a poll carried out by Insa for the German magazine Cicero said they wanted Merkel and her Christian Democrats (CDU) party to lead the government following federal elections in 2017.

Merkel has also been under fire for what her critics say is a submissive attitude towards Turkey.

She allowed the prosecution of German comedian Jan Boehmermann following Ankara's request, for insulting the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a satirical poem.

Support for the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has fallen to 33 percent.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the CSU, which has been critical of Merkel's refugee policy, might run a separate campaign from the CDU in the 2017 election.

Merkel's coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), have also seen a drop in their approval rating to 20 percent.

The party making gains is the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) that moved from a marginal party to having 15 percent support nationally.

Meanwhile, German authorities are investigating claims that 40 Islamist militants were among the asylum seekers who have travelled to the country.

Police said they had received 369 reports of possible extremism, and found that roughly one-tenth of the cases needed to be investigated.

Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, had warned that the Islamic State militant group was attempting to “send a political signal” by using the refugee route to stoke fears in Europe.

Turkey free speech row goes EU-wide

Turkey's EU embassy has called for legal action against a Dutch comic for insulting its president, lifting a dispute on free speech, which began in Germany, to a European level.

Merkel, Renzi agree basics of Africa plan

The German chancellor Angela Merkel backed an Italian plan on stemming migration flows from Africa, but disagrees on how it should be financed.

Merkel authorises probe into Erdogan satire

Decision to authorise proceedings against Turkey-bashing comic split Merkel's coalition, prompted accusations of "kowtowing" to Turkish "despot" Erdogan.

EU asks for G7's help on refugees

EU Council president Donald Tusk said the world should show solidarity and help to pay for aid to refugees and encourage regular migration.

News in Brief

  1. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  2. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  3. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  4. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  5. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  6. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  7. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  8. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us