Athens, August 19, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Around 20,843 migrants arrived in Greece last week (8-14 August) by sea, announced Tuesday in Geneva the UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), saying he expects from Greece “more leadership” in crisis management, while he asks for the assistance of the EU.
The number of 20,843 immigrants represents almost 50% of all seaborne migrants’ arrivals in Greece in 2014, who had eventually reached 43,500, underlines the UNHCR, noting that “the pace of arrivals has been increasing in recent weeks”.
Only in July, there were 50 242 arrivals, ie more than what is in the whole 2014.
For the arrivals last week, the vast majority of immigrants came from Syria (82%). Afghans accounted for 14% of all Iraqis and 3%.
“The vast majority of these arrivals should receive refugee status”, says the UNHCR.
“For months, the UNHCR has been sending warnings regarding the growing crisis with refugees in the Greek islands”, reports the UN service, which seeks to “urgently” increase the host structures on the islands and the rest of the country.
The service “recommends the Greek authorities to create a single structure which will be in charge of coordinating the emergency response” to this crisis and “to create an appropriate mechanism for humanitarian aid”. European countries should support Greece in this work, it says.
“If the [Greek] central authority came with leadership and vision and appointed someone to co-ordinate this response, then we and other international organizations would be ready to come and help. But it’s hard for us to come and start working on site if there isn’t someone in charge”, said William Spintler, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Almost 250,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year and at least 2,349 have died during the trip, according to the World Organization for Migration (IOM).
“We would like to emphasise that there are 135 days more in this year. We have every reason to expect that the total number of arrivals will exceed 300,000”, said from Geneva the IOC spokesman Joel Millman.
According to the figures of Frontex, the number of migrants and refugees arriving in EU border in July was three times higher compared to the same month a year ago, reaching 107,500 persons.
“This number is the third consecutive monthly record and is much higher than the 70,000 in June”, says in the statement issued by the Organisation from its headquarters in Warsaw.
During the first seven months of 2015 the number of migrants and refugees reached 340,000, from 123,500 in the same period in 2014, which “created unprecedented pressure to the border control authorities in Italy, Greece and Hungary”, continues the Communication.
Most of those who illegally enter the EU are Syrians and Afghans fleeing the war and instability in their countries. They come mainly to Greece via Turkey.
“This is an urgent situation for Europe, which requires all EU member states to offer their support to the national authorities that receive massive migrants at their borders”, said the director of the European office, Fabrice Lazeri.
“Frontex has asked from member countries additional equipment and personnel to support the operations in Greece and Hungary”, he added.
In July, according to Frontex, more than 50,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Aegean and reached the Greek islands, especially in Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Kos. About 20,000 persons arrived in Italy, while from the Western Balkans Hungary recorded over 34,000 arrivals.