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Greece, crossroads of migrations: 7,000 refugees disembark every day

A riferire le cifre è l’International Organisation for Migration. L’agenzia Frontex aggiunge: “Più di 700 mila migranti arrivati in Europa nel 2015”.

710,000 migrants crossed the European Union’s external borders in the first nine months of 2015. It is a figure significantly higher than that registered in 2014, when migrants didn’t exceed 282,000. Such data have been released on 13 October by Frontex (European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union), which identified Greece as the country affected the most by migratory inflows, with about 350,000 arrivals from January 1st to date. 

migrants border greece macedonia
Tens of migrants reach the border between Greece and Macedonia ©Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

These figures portrait a dramatic reality, with a tremendous number of people pushing the external borders of the Old Continent, making of the Mediterranean Sea a crossroads of getaways, dreams, hopes, and, unfortunately, continuous tragedies. However, Frontex’s data are less alarming than the calculations provided by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), according to which 4,500 people daily arrived to Greek coasts until the end of September, with an average of 7,000 people per day in the first few weeks of October.

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According to the IOM, almost 600,000 people arrived to Europe, by sea alone, from the beginning of 2015 ©IOM

Migrants choose the Greek route due to logistic factors: Libya is registering a shortage of available boats, which contributed to limit departures headed to Italy (the country registered a sharp decrease: 12,000 people entered Italy in September). On 6 October, Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, together with Austria’s Premier Werner Faymann visited the island of Lesbo, one of the most affected by inflows, in the Aegean Sea. The two leaders called on the European Union for help: during the day they were on visit on the island, 7,500 migrants arrived. In the first hours of the following day, some of them managed to reach Europe on board a dinghy, raising amazement and emotion among those who saved them. 

According to Frontex, Eritreans were the most numerous among the people using this route. The IOM reminds that many of them have to pay high “fares” to smugglers. Then, the country of origin marks the difference: “Once refugees disembark, their origin is a decisive factor to understand their future,” said the organisation. “Syrians are traveling quicker than other nationalities from the Greek islands to the Macedonia border because they can afford to, sometimes paying up to 700 euros ($796.15) for a taxi from Athens to the border. Afghan refugees tend to spend longer traveling through Greece and many have to work or borrow money to afford the journey”.

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