News / Europe

    Migration Crisis: Seaborne Arrivals In Europe Top One Million

    FILE - Migrants rest before crossing the Austrian-German border in Achleiten, Austria, across from Passau, Germany, Oct. 29, 2015.
    FILE - Migrants rest before crossing the Austrian-German border in Achleiten, Austria, across from Passau, Germany, Oct. 29, 2015.
    Lisa Schlein

    The UN refugee agency reports more than one million refugees and migrants have reached Europe by sea alone this year, with 80 percent of this record number landing on small, overcrowded Greek islands.

    The U.N. refugee agency says refugees fleeing war and persecution are paying a heavy price in their desperation to find a safe haven.  It reports 3,735 people have lost their lives this year making the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing.  This translates to an average of 10 deaths or missing persons every day.  

    The UNHCR reports the total number of seaborne refugees this year is nearly five times higher than last, when just over 200,000 arrived in Europe, making this the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

    Thousands still arriving

    UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards says between 2,000 and 3,000 people — most of them Syrians — continue to arrive by boats on the islands of the Aegean every day despite the freezing cold temperatures and raging seas.  

    FILE - Refugees and migrants walk along a beach after crossing a part of the Aegean on a dinghy, from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos, Dec. 12, 2015.
    FILE - Refugees and migrants walk along a beach after crossing a part of the Aegean on a dinghy, from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos, Dec. 12, 2015.

    He tells VOA the refugees fleeing conflicts in their countries take to the sea because most land routes into Europe are blocked.

    “There are restrictions at the border." he said.  "We have countries that have erected fences along border, land borders and the sea really remains the main viable option for those people.  Unfortunately, what it means though is that smuggling is profiting in a major way.  It means that people are drowning.  It means that the systems for making this regular movement of people are not yet in place.”  

    Edwards notes Europe’s migration crisis reflects, what he calls, an era of record-breaking forcible displacement.  A recent UNHCR report finds the number of people who are refugees or internally displaced because of conflict now exceeds more than 60 million.

    Earlier this month, a report by the International Organization for Migration said the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe by both sea and land this year was over one million.

    Perception issue

    The UNHCR spokesman says a major problem facing those fleeing to Europe is one of perception.  He says this can be seen in the language people around the world use to describe this situation.

    “Many people still prefer to talk about this as a migrant crisis rather than a refugee one," he said. "Now migrants migrate, refugees flee.  Word choices really do matter.  Both terms have become politically loaded in the context of the situation in Europe.”  

    FILE - Slovenian police officers guide migrants towards the Austrian border town of Spielfeld, in the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, Nov. 18, 2015.
    FILE - Slovenian police officers guide migrants towards the Austrian border town of Spielfeld, in the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, Nov. 18, 2015.

    Under international refugee law, Edwards says nations are obliged to offer protection to people fleeing conflict and persecution.  He says efforts to blur the distinction between refugees and economic migrants are putting the lives of many people who have a legitimate claim to asylum at risk.

     

     

     

     

     

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Eusebio Manuel Vestias Pe from: Borba
    January 02, 2016 10:50 AM
    Everyone has a pass for free stuff Happy New Year to all refugees in world

    by: Dan Thomas from: 60093
    December 30, 2015 11:44 AM
    Europe is due for another war. Draft the refugees to help fight it.

    by: Hypie Porkman
    December 30, 2015 11:33 AM
    Sink a few boats and that will cure the problem.. let them walk.. or better yet.. give them guns and tell them to go home and fight for their country
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    December 30, 2015 1:17 PM
    You fail to understand that the very support that the imbecile leaders in the EU including Merkel lend to Turkey, has created this situation for the people in Syria and now the EU is paying the price for failing to confront Turkey for its crimes.

    The people in Syria were living in peace and harmony, all religions and sects, until Turkey started the civil war with a false-flag gas attack on the Syrian people.

    by: PermReader
    December 30, 2015 11:25 AM
    Globalization` ve opened the perspectives for the leftists to use third world immigrations in their search for power.Immigrants` voices in France have helped the socialists to get the power.Obama pushes the immigrants legal and illegal through the lawful obstacles to America for changing its demography! National states must prevent the attempts to change its demography by use of immigrants. VOA evidently avoides the problem,eliminating the Syrian refuges post resently.

    by: Philip Smeeton
    December 30, 2015 11:05 AM
    The cheapest solution and the one that is best for us and the refugees, is to send them all back and give them aid in their own cultures.

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