UN Announces 850,000 Migrants to Cross Sea to Europe in 2015 – 2016September 16, 2015 in Syria, United Nations
On 9 September, the United Nations announced that at least 850,000 people are expected to cross the Mediterranean, seeking refuge in Europe this year and next. In its announcement, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, called for more cohesive asylum policies in order to deal with the growing numbers.
In a newly released document, the refugee agency reported that “in 2015, UNHCR anticipates that approximately 400,000 new arrivals will seek international protection in Europe via the Mediterranean. In 2016, this number could reach 450,000 or more.” It noted that many of the refugees are Syrians, who have been driven to make the dangerous voyage by intensified fighting there, coupled with worsening conditions for refugees in surrounding countries, which has been due to funding shortfalls in aid programmes. UNHCR spokesman William Spindler has noted that the prediction for this year is already close to being fulfilled as 366,000 have already made the voyage. He disclosed that the total will depend on whether migrants stop attempting the journey as the weather becomes colder and the seas more dangerous. Currently however the numbers do not appear to have slowed down, and are not likely to given Germany’s announcement that it will ease the rules for Syrians seeking refuge who first reach the European Union (EU) through other countries. The UNHCR has reported that a single-day record 7,000 Syrian refugees arrived in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia on 7 September, while 30,000 are on Greek Islands, most of them on Lesbos.
Germany has told its European partners that they must take in more refugees as it handles record numbers of asylum seekers. Other countries, including the US and wealthy Gulf States must also take on their responsibilities. Last week, the White House announced that it was considering steps to ease the crisis.