European migrant crisis
The European migrant crisis[n 1] or European refugee crisis[n 2] began in 2015, when a rising number of refugees and migrants made the journey to the European Union to seek asylum, travelling across the Mediterranean Sea, or throughSoutheast Europe. They came from areas such asWestern and South Asia, Africa, and theWestern Balkans. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as of February 2016, the top three nationalities of the over one million Mediterranean Sea arrivals since January 2015 are Syrian (48%), Afghani (21%) and Iraqi(9%). Most of the refugees and migrants are adult men (57%), 17% are women and 27% are children. The phrases "European migrant crisis" and "European refugee crisis" became widely used in April 2015, when five boats carrying almost 2,000 migrants to Europe sank in the Mediterranean Sea, with a combined death toll estimated at more than 1,200 people.
The shipwrecks took place in a context of ongoing conflicts and refugee crises in several Asian and African countries, which increased the total number of forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2014 to almost 60 million, the highest level since World War II. Amid an upsurge in the number of sea arrivals in Italy from Libya in 2014, several European Union governments refused to fund the Italian-run rescue option Operation Mare Nostrum, which was replaced by Frontex's Operation Triton in November 2014. In the first six months of 2015, Greece overtook Italy as the first EU country of arrival, becoming, in the summer 2015, the starting point of a flow of refugees and migrants moving through Balkan countries to northern European countries, mainly Germany and Sweden. Since April 2015, theEuropean Union has struggled to cope with the crisis, increasing funding for border patrol operations in the Mediterranean, devising plans to fight migrant smuggling, launching Operation Sophia and proposing a new quota system to relocate and resettle asylum seekers among EU states and alleviate the burden on countries on the external borders of the Union. Individual countries have at times reintroduced border controls within the Schengen Area, and rifts have emerged between countries willing to accept asylum seekers and others trying to discourage their arrival.
According to Eurostat, EU member states received 626,000 asylum applications in 2014, the highest number since the 672,000 applications received in 1992, and granted protection status to more than 185,000 asylum seekers. The number of asylum applications doubled to 1,221,855 in 2015. Four states – Germany, Sweden, Italy, and France – received around two-thirds of the EU's asylum applications and granted almost two-thirds of protection status in 2014; while Sweden, Hungary, and Austria were among the top recipients of EU asylum applications per capita.
1Background1.1Schengen Area and Dublin Regulation
1.3Statistics on the EU's foreign-born population prior to 2015
1.4Global refugee crisis
1.5Background to the crisis in Greece and Italy
2.2Origins and motivations
2.3Migrant routes, development, and responses in individual countries
2.4Triggers of the summer 2015 crisis
2.5Closure of green borders
4Political debate4.1European People's Party
4.2Party of European Socialists
Schengen Area and Dublin Regulation
Main articles: Schengen Area and Dublin Regulation
The Schengen Area
European Union members legally obliged to join Schengen at a future date
In the Schengen Agreement, 26 European countries (22 of the 28 European Union member states, plus four European Free Trade Association states) joined together to form an area, where border checks on internal Schengen borders (i.e. between member states) are abolished, and instead checks are restricted to the external Schengen borders and countries with external borders are obligated to enforce border control regulations. Countries may reinstate internal border controls for a maximum of two months for "public policy or national security" reasons.
The Dublin regulation determines the EU member state responsible to examine an asylum application to prevent asylum applicants in the EU from "asylum shopping", where applicants send their applications for asylum to numerous EU member states, or "asylum orbiting", where no member state takes responsibility for an asylum seeker. By default (when no family reasons or humanitarian grounds are present), the first member state that an asylum seeker entered and in which they have been fingerprinted is responsible. If the asylum seeker then moves to another member state, they can be transferred back to the member state they first entered. This has led many to criticise the Dublin rules for placing too much responsibility for asylum seekers on member states on the EU’s external borders (like Italy, Greece and Hungary), instead of devising a burden-sharing system among EU states.
Article 26 of the Schengen Convention says that carriers which transport people into the Schengen area shall, if they transport people who are refused entry into the Schengen Area, pay for the return of the refused people, and pay penalties. Further clauses on this topic are found in EU directive 2001/51/EC. This has had the effect that migrants without a visa are not allowed on aircraft, boats or trains going into the Schengen Area, so migrants without a visa have resorted to migrant smugglers[verification needed].
The laws on migrant smuggling ban helping migrants to pass any national border if the migrants are without a visa or other permission to enter. This has caused many airlines to check for visas and refuse passage to migrants without visas, including international flights inside the Schengen Area. This has forced migrants to travel overland to their destination country.
Statistics on the EU's foreign-born population prior to 2015
Main article: Immigration to Europe
Immigration of non-EU nationals (green),asylum applicants (orange) and illegal border-crossings (blue) in the European Union, 2010–2014
The foreign-born population residing in the EU in 2014 amounts to 33 million people, or 7% of the total population of the 28 EU countries (above 500 million people). By comparison, the foreign-born population is 1.63% of the total population in Japan, 7.7% inRussia, 13% in the United States, 20% in Canadaand 27% in Australia. Between 2010 and 2013, around 1.4 million non-EU nationals, excluding asylum seekers and refugees, immigrated into the EU each year using regular means, with a slight decrease since 2010.
Prior to 2014, the number of asylum applications in the EU peaked in 1992 (672,000), 2001 (424,000), and 2013 (431,000). In 2014 it reached 626,000.According to the UNHCR, the EU countries with the biggest numbers of recognised refugees at the end of 2014 were France (252,264), Germany (216,973), Sweden (142,207) and the United Kingdom (117,161). No European state was among the top ten refugee-hosting countries in the world.
Prior to 2014, the number of illegal border crossings detected by Frontex at the external borders of the EU peaked in 2011, with 141,051 sea and land irregular arrivals.
Global refugee crisis
See also: Refugees of the Syrian Civil War
Top ten countries of origin (red) and asylum (green) of refugees worldwide at the end of 2014, according to UNHCR data (excluding Palestine refugees under UNRWA mandate).
According to the UNHCR, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide reached 59.5 million at the end of 2014, the highest level since World War II, with a 40% increase taking place since 2011. Of these 59.5 million, 19.5 million were refugees(14.4 million under UNHCR's mandate, plus 5.1 million Palestinian refugees under UNRWA's mandate), and 1.8 million were asylum-seekers. The rest were persons displaced within their own countries (internally displaced persons). The 14.4 million refugees under UNHCR's mandate were around 2.7 million more than at the end of 2013 (+23%), the highest level since 1995. Among them,Syrian refugees became the largest refugee group in 2014 (3.9 million, 1.55 million more than the previous year), overtaking Afghan refugees (2.6 million), who had been the largest refugee group for three decades. Six of the ten largest countries of origin of refugees were African: Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Eritrea.
Developing countries hosted the largest share of refugees (86% by the end of 2014, the highest figure in more than two decades); the least developed countries alone provided asylum to 25% of refugees worldwide. Even though most Syrian refugees were hosted by neighbouring countries such as Turkey,Lebanon and Jordan, the number of asylum applications lodged by Syrian refugees in Europe steadily increased between 2011 and 2015, totalling 813,599 in 37 European countries (including both EU members and non-members) as of November 2015; 57% of them applied for asylum in Germany orSerbia. The largest single recipient of new asylum seekers worldwide in 2014 was the Russian Federation, with 274,700 asylum requests, 99% of them lodged by Ukrainians fleeing from the war in Donbass; Russia was followed by Germany, the top recipient of asylum applications within the European Union, with 202,645 asylum requests, 20% of them from Syria.
Background to the crisis in Greece and Italy
Main articles: Libyan Crisis, Operation Mare Nostrum and Operation Triton
Greek, Turkish, and Bulgarian borders and the course of the Maritsa River
Between 2007 and 2011, large numbers of undocumented migrants from the Middle East and Africa crossed between Turkey and Greece, leading Greece and the European Border Protection agency Frontex to upgrade border controls. In 2012, immigrant influx into Greece by land decreased by 95% after the construction of a fence on that part of the Greek–Turkish frontier which does not follow the course of the MaritsaRiver. In 2015, Bulgaria followed by upgrading a border fence to prevent migrant flows through Turkey.
Instability and the second civil war in Libya have made departures easier from the north-African country, with no central authority controlling Libya’s ports and dealing with European countries, and migrant smuggling networks flourishing. The war could also have forced to leave many African immigrants residing in Libya, which used to be itself a destination country for migrants looking for better jobs.
The 2013 Lampedusa migrant shipwreck involved "more than 360" deaths, leading the Italian government to establish Operation Mare Nostrum, a large-scale naval operation that involved search and rescue, with some migrants brought aboard a naval amphibious assault ship. In 2014, the Italian government ended the operation, calling the costs too large for one EU state alone to manage; Frontex assumed the main responsibility for search and rescue operations. The Frontex operation is called Operation Triton. The Italian government had requested additional funds from the EU to continue the operation but member states did not offer the requested support. The UK government cited fears that the operation was acting as "an unintended 'pull factor', encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths". The operation consists of two surveillance aircraft and three ships, with seven teams of staff who gather intelligence and conduct screening/identification processing. Its monthly budget is estimated at €2.9 million.
Sea and land arrivals to the EU
Sea and land arrivals to the EU
in 2014 by nationality
Unspecified sub-Saharan nationals
According to the International Organization for Migration(IOM), up to 3,072 people died or disappeared in 2014 in the Mediterranean while trying to migrate to Europe.Overall estimates are that over 22,000 migrants died between 2000 and 2014.
In 2014, 283,532 migrants irregularly entered the European Union, mainly following the Central Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes. 220,194 migrants crossed EU sea borders in the Central, Eastern and Western Mediterranean (a 266% increase compared to 2013). Half of them had come from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan.
Of those arriving in Southern Europe in 2014, the vast majority (170,664, a 277% increase compared to 2013) arrived in Italy through Libya, whereas a minority (50,834, a 105% increase) arrived in Greece through Turkey. 62,000 applied for asylum in Italy, but most Syrians and Eritreans, who comprised almost half of the arrivals in Italy in 2014, did not stop in Italy, but continued their journey towards northern Europe, Germany and Sweden in particular.
In 2015, a shift took place, with Greece overtaking Italy as the primary point of arrival and surpassing in the first six months of 2015 the numbers for the whole of 2014: 67,500 people arrived in Italy, mainly coming from Eritrea (25%), Nigeria (10%) and Somalia (10%), whereas 68,000 arrived on the islands of Greece, mainly coming from Syria (57%) and Afghanistan (22%). In total, 137,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean into Europe in the first six months of 2015.
As of 17 April 2015, the total number of migrants reaching the Italian coasts was 21,191 since 1 January 2015, with a decrease during the month of March due to bad weather conditions, and a surge since 10 April, bringing the total number of arrivals in line with the number recorded in the same period in 2014. However, the death toll in the first four months of 2014 was 96, compared with 500 in the same period in 2015; this number excluded the victims of the devastating shipwrecks on 13 and 19 April.
Mediterranean sea arrivals to Greece (green) and Italy (orange) from January to December 2015, according to UNHCR data.
In early August 2015, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that 250,000 migrants had arrived in Europe by sea so far in 2015, 124,000 in Greece and 98,000 in Italy. According toFrontex, July set a new record for a single month, with 107,500 migrants estimated to have entered the EU. 190,000 people were detected by Frontex crossing the EU sea and land borders in August, 267,000 in September, 276,000 in November,and 214,700 in December, bringing the total number of refugees and migrants detected by Frontex at EU external borders in 2015 to 1.83 million (880,000 in Greece, 764,000 in Hungary and Croatia and 157,000 in Italy, although a large number of migrants following the Western Balkan route were double-counted when arriving in Greece and then when entering the EU for the second time through Hungary or Croatia).
According to IOM and UNHCR estimates, around one million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe till 21 December 2015, three to four times more than in 2014. Just 3% (34,215) came by land to Bulgaria and Greece; the rest came by sea to Greece, Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Malta. The vast majority arrived by sea in Greece (816,752); 150,317 arrived by sea in Italy, with a slight drop from 170,000 in 2014. Half of those crossing the Mediterranean were from Syria, 20% were from Afghanistan and 7% from Iraq. IOM estimated that a total of 3,692 migrants and refugees lost their lives in the Mediterranean in 2015 - over 400 more than in 2014 - of whom 2,889 in the Central Mediterranean and 731 in the Aegean sea.
Countries of origin of asylum applicants in the EUand EFTA States between 1 January and 30 June 2015
According to Eurostat, EU member states received 626,715 asylum applications in 2014, the highest number since the 672,000 applications received in 1992. For comparison, the first 9 months of 2015 showed 812,705 applications. The main countries of origin of asylum seekers, accounting for almost half of the total, were Syria (20%), Afghanistan (7%),Kosovo (6%), Eritrea (6%) and Serbia (5%).
In 2014, decisions on asylum applications in the EU made at the first instance resulted in more than 160,000 asylum seekers being granted protection status, while a further 23,000 received protection status on appeal. The rate of recognition of asylum applicants was 45% at the first instance and 18% on appeal. The main beneficiaries of protection status, accounting for more than half of the total, were Syrians (68,300 or 37%), Eritreans (14,600 or 8%) and Afghanis (14,100 or 8%).
Four states – Germany, Sweden, Italy and France – received around two-thirds of the EU's asylum applications and granted almost two-thirds of protection status in 2014. Sweden, Hungary and Austria were among the top recipients of EU asylum applications per capita, when adjusted for their own populations, with 8.4 asylum seekers per 1,000 inhabitants in Sweden, 4.3 in Hungary and 3.2 in Austria.
Number of first time asylum applications received by the top ten recipients in the EU-28, January–September 2015. The top ten recipients account for more than 90% of the total asylum applications received in the EU-28.
In the first three months of 2015, the number of new asylum applicants in the EU was 184,800, increasing by 86% if compared with the same quarter in the previous year but remaining stable if compared to the last quarter of 2014. More than half applied forasylum in Germany (40%) or Hungary (18%). The main nationalities of the applicants were Kosovo (48,875 or 26%), Syria (29,100 or 16%) and Afghanistan (12,910 or 7%). In the second quarter of 2015, 213,200 people applied for asylum in the EU, up by 15% compared with the previous quarter. 38% applied for asylum in Germany, followed by Hungary (15%) and Austria (8%). The main countries of citizenship of asylum seekers, accounting for more than half of the total, were Syria (21%), Afghanistan (13%), Albania (8%), Iraq (6%) and Kosovo (5%). In the third quarter of 2015 (July–September), EU countries received 413,800 first time asylum applications, almost double the number registered in the previous quarter. Germany and Hungary were the top recipients, with 26% each of total applicants. One third of asylum seekers were Syrians (33%), followed by Afghanis (14%) and Iraqis (11%). In December 2015, new Eurostatstatistics showed that as of November 2015, at least 1,001,910 had so far claimed asylum in one of the 28 EU member states in 2015.
In August 2015, the German government announced that it expected to receive 800,000 asylum applications by the end of the year. Data released by Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in January 2016 showed that Germany received 476,649 asylum applications in 2015, mainly from Syrians (162,510), Albanians (54,762), Kosovars (37,095), Afghanis (31,902), Iraqis (31,379), Serbians (26,945), Macedonians (14,131), Eritreans (10,990) and Pakistanis (8,472). In 2015, Germany made 282,762 decisions on asylum applications; the overall asylum recognition rate was 49.8% (140,915 decisions were positive, so that applicants were granted protection). The most successful applicants were Syrians (101,419 positive decisions, with a 96% recognition rate), Eritreans (9,300 positive decisions; 92.1% recognition rate) and Iraqis (14,880 positive decisions; 88.6% recognition rate).
Sweden received 162,877 asylum applications in 2015 (the highest per capita number in Europe), mainly from Syrians (51,338), Afghanis (41,564), Iraqis (20,857), Eritreans (7,231) and Somalis (5,465). In 2015, Sweden granted protection to 32,631 asylum applicants, whereas it rejected 9,524 applications (the proportion of positive decisions out of materially considered applications was 77%). The main beneficiaries of protection were Syrians (18,523 positive decisions, with a 100% recognition rate), Eritreans (6,542 positive decisions; 100% recognition rate) and Afghanis (1,088 positive decisions; 74% recognition rate).
Origins and motivations
Nationalities of the Mediterranean sea arrivals to Greece and Italy in 2015, according to UNHCR data
Ascertaining motivation is complex, but most of the migrants are refugees, fleeing war andpersecution in countries such as Syria,Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea: according toUNHCR data, 84% of Mediterranean Sea arrivals in 2015 came from the world's top ten refugee-producing countries. According to UNHCR, as of February 2016, the top ten nationalities of Mediterranean Sea arrivals since January 2015 are Syria (48%), Afghanistan(21%), Iraq (9%), Eritrea (4%), Pakistan (3%),Nigeria (2%), Somalia (2%), Sudan (1%), the Gambia (1%) and Senegal (1%). Asylum seekers of seven nationalities had an asylum recognition rate of over 50% in EU States in the first quarter of 2015, meaning that they obtained protection over half the time they applied: Syrians (94% recognition rate), Eritreans (90%), Iraqis (88%), Afghans (66%), Iranians(65%), Somalis (60%) and Sudanese (53%). Migrants of these nationalities accounted for 90% of the arrivals in Greece and 47% of the arrivals in Italy between January and August 2015, according to UNHCR data. Wars fueling the crisis are the Syrian civil war and the Iraq war, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Somalia, and the war in Darfur. Refugees from Eritrea, one of the most repressivestates in the world, flee from indefinite military conscription and forced labour.
Migrants being stopped at the Greek–Macedonian border nearGevgelija by the Macedonian Police, 24 August 2015
Migrants from the Western Balkans (Kosovo, Albania, Serbia) and parts of West Africa (The Gambia, Nigeria) and South Asia(Bangladesh, Pakistan) are more likely to be economic migrants, fleeing poverty and lack of jobs, many of them hoping for a better lifestyle and job offers, without valid claims to refugee status. The majority of asylum applicants from Serbia,Macedonia and Montenegro are Roma people who feel discriminated against in their countries of origin. The influx from states like Nigeria and Pakistan is mixed, made up in part of economic migrants and in part of refugees fleeing from violence and war (like the Boko Haram insurgency in north-east Nigeria and the war in North-West Pakistan).
According to UNHCR data, as of February 2016, most of the refugees and migrants arriving in Europe by sea since January 2015 are adult men (57%), 17% are women and 27% are children. The percentage of adult men is higher among those who make the journey across the Central Mediterranean to Italy (75%) than among those who cross the Aegean Sea to Greece (54%). Of the asylum applications received in Sweden in 2015, 70% were by men (including minors). Men search for a safe place to live and work before attempting to reunite later with their families. In war-torn countries, men are also at greater risk of being forced to fight or of being killed.Among people arriving in Europe there were, however, also large numbers of women and children, including unaccompanied children. Europe has received a record number of asylum applications from unaccompanied child refugees in 2015, as they became separated from their families in war, or their family could not afford to send more than one member abroad. Younger refugees also have better chances of receiving asylum.
Some argue that migrants have been seeking to settle preferentially in those national destinations offering more generous social welfare benefits and hosting more established Middle Eastern and African immigrant communities. Others argue that migrants are attracted to more tolerant societies with stronger economies, and that the chief motivation for leaving Turkey is that they are not permitted to leave camps or work. In contrast to Germany, historically a popular final destination for the EU migrants, France saw its popularity erode in 2015 among migrants seeking asylum.
Migrant routes, development, and responses in individual countries
As of August 2015, Frontex recognises the following general routes on sea and on land used by irregular migrants to enter the EU:
Migrants along the Balkan route crossing from Serbia into Hungary, 24 August 2015
the Western African route
the Western Mediterranean route
the Central Mediterranean route
the Apulia and Calabria route
the circular route from Albania to Greece
the Western Balkan route (from Greece through Macedonia and Serbia to Hungary or Croatia)
the Eastern Mediterranean route
the Eastern Borders route
In addition, an Arctic route had emerged by September 2015and was becoming one of the fastest-growing routes to enter Western Europe by November 2015.
See also: Austrian border barrier
Wien Westbahnhof railway stationon 5 September 2015: migrants on their way to Germany
On 27 August 2015, 71 migrants were found dead in an unventilated food truck near Vienna. As an official response to this tragedy, on 31 August 2015, Austria began inspections of vehicles for smuggled immigrants entering from across the border with Hungary, leading to vehicular backups of 19 km (12 mi) and trains stalled for hours.
Late on 4 September 2015, Chancellor Werner Faymann of Austria, in conjunction with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, announced that migrants would be allowed to cross the border from Hungary into Austria and onward to Germany, and early on 5 September 2015, buses with migrants began crossing the Austro-Hungarian border. Austria noted that 6,500 migrants had crossed the border by the afternoon of 5 September 2015, with 2,200 already on their way to Germany.
On 14 September 2015, Austria followed Germany's suit and instituted border controls of its own at the border with Hungary. Austrian authorities also deployed the Austrian Army to the border with Hungary.
On 19 September 2015, Austria permitted entry to approximately 10,000 migrants from Slovenia and Hungary. Austria has taken on the role of regulator of the flow of migrants destined for Germany by feeding, housing, and providing them health care in transit.
On 28 October 2015, Austria decided to build a fence along its border with Slovenia to "be able to control the migrants in an orderly manner", told Minister of the Interior Johanna Mikl-Leitner.
Marking of a minefield left over fromCroatian War of Independence, typically seen in minefields in Croatia
Croatia, an EU member state, shares a land border with Serbia and is therefore at risk for a strong inflow of migrants from Serbia considering that Hungary erected a fence on its border with Serbia. Nearly 80% of the border consists of the Danube River, but there is a 70 kilometer-long segment of land border in Srem, in the forests and fields near Tovarnik. Also, parts of the Croatia-Serbia border are known minefields, which represent a considerable threat. According to the Croatian Minister of InteriorRanko Ostojić, "police in the area have enough people and equipment to protect the Croatian border against illegal immigrants". Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and First Deputy Prime Minister Vesna Pusić have so far rejected the option of building a fence along the Croatian border with Serbia. Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović said his country is ready to help refugees coming to Europe, insisting that people fleeing conflict should be given the right to remain in the EU.
On 15 September 2015, Croatia started to experience the first major waves of refugees of the Syrian Civil War. First Syrian refugees cross Croatia-Serbia border, carving out potential new route through Europe after Hungary seals borders. On 15 September 2015, Hungary announced it would start arresting people crossing the border illegally, and as of early 16 September, Hungary had detained 519 people and pressed criminal charges against 46 for trespassing. Thousands of migrants were subsequently led to pursue alternative routes through Croatia from Serbia. After Hungary closed its border with Serbia on 15 September, migrants headed towards the Serbian town of Šid, less than 10 kilometers from the Croatian border. Several buses filled with migrants arrived on the Croatian border crossing ofTovarnik, where the Croatian Vukovar-Srijem County Care and Rescue teams as well as the Croatian Red Cross were on standby awaiting migrants. On 17 September, as of 3:30 AM, more than 5,000 migrants had arrived in Tovarnik. Interior Minister Ranko Ostojić said Croatia is "absolutely full" by the evening of 17 September 2015, and Croatia decided to close its border with Serbia. Train lines from Serbia via Croatia to Slovenia were closed until further notice.
As of 6 October 2015, 125,000 entered Croatia in the space of three weeks. Between mid-September and mid-October 2015, about 200,000 migrants had passed through Croatia, most moving on to Hungary. On 17 October 2015, Hungary closed its border with Croatia to migrants, forcing diversion of migrants to Slovenia instead. However, Slovenia, with a population of only two million, stated that it would only be able to admit 2,500 people per day, stranding thousands of migrants in Croatia as well as Serbia and Macedonia, while new migrants continued to add to this backlog.
In late December 2015, Slovenia put up a razor-wire fence on the border with western Croatian regions ofIstria and Gorski kotar, the latter of which is a habitat of the lynx and the brown bear, both of which are endangered and protected by law in Croatia. Local hunters have found deer having been killed by the fence. The WWF and the inhabitants of the regions from both sides of the border have protested against the decision to put up the razor-wire fence.
Starting on 6 September 2015, large groups of migrants who declined to apply for asylum in Germany started passing the Danish borders with the majority heading for Sweden. Initially the Danish police attempted to register all migrants in accordance with EU rules, but many refused (instead wishing to seek asylum in Sweden), eventually resulting in a scuffle of about 50 people on 9 September at the Padborg Rail Station. On 9 September, Denmark suspended all rail and ferry links with Germany (reopened the following day). On the same day parts of the E45 motorway was closed for vehicles to avoid accidents as hundreds of migrants were walking along it in southern Jutland towards Sweden. It was reopened a few hours later when the walking migrants exited the motorway. After initial uncertainty surrounding the rules, it was decided that migrants wishing to continue to other Nordic countries and refusing to seek asylum in Denmark would be allowed to pass. In the five weeks following 6 September alone, approximately 28,800 migrants passed the Danish borders. 3,500 of these applied for asylum in Denmark and the remaining continued to other Nordic countries. After Sweden introduced ID checks on the Danish border to prevent undocumented migrants from coming to Sweden, Denmark also reintroduced border controls on the Danish-German border in January 2016, citing fear of accumulation of illegal migrants on their way to Sweden as one of the reasons for this decision.
See also: Calais jungle
Migrants entering France illegally by train from Italy were returned to Italy by French police since border controls were introduced in July 2015. France has been perceived as "unwelcoming" and having a poor job market by migrants. Thus many of them seek to enter the United Kingdom, resulting in camps of illegal migrants around Calais, where one of the Eurotunnel entrances is located. During the summer of 2015, at least nine people died in attempts to reach Britain, including falling from, or being hit by trains, and drowning in a canal at the Eurotunnel entrance. Migrants from the camps also attempt to enter trucks bound for the UK, with some truck drivers being threatened by migrants, and cargo being stolen or damaged. In response, a UK financed fence was built along the A 216 highway in Calais. In January 2016, a bus carrying Scottish high school students through Calais was damaged as it passed through an incident between the French police and migrants near Calais.
This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detailthat may only interest a specific audience. Please help byspinning off or relocating any relevant information, and removing excessive detail that may be against Wikipedia's inclusion policy.(January 2016)
The Finnish press was reporting on 13 September 2015 that the local authorities had estimated the flow of 300 asylum seekers per day entering via the northern land border from Sweden into Tornio. The total number of asylum seekers for the year was reported to be over 2.6 times the total amount for the whole of the previous year. During October 2015, 7,058 new asylum seekers arrived in Finland. In mid-October the number of asylum seekers entering Finland during 2015 reached 27,000, which is, in relation to the country's size, the fourth-largest in Europe. In late November, the number passed 30,000, nearly ten-fold increase compared to the previous year. In September, The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) estimated that processing time of an asylum application may be extended from normal six months up to two years. In November, the Ministry of Interior had warned that, if the current trend of asylum seekers entering the country continues, the authorities will have to use temporary shelters to house the asylum seekers. In late November, the reception centers were reported to be rapidly running out of space, forcing the authorities resorting to refurbished shipping containers and tents to house new asylum seekers. The Interior Minister Petteri Orpo estimated that two in three asylum seekers come to Finland in hopes of higher standard of living. In November, the Permanent Secretary of the Interior Ministry stated that approximately 60-65% of the recent applications for asylum will be denied. More than 60% of asylum seekers who arrived during 2015 came from Iraq. In late October, The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) changed it's guidelines about areas in Iraq which are recognized as safe by the Finnish authorities, putting Iraqi asylum seekers under closer scrutiny.In late November, it was reported that more than 700 Iraqis had voluntarily canceled their asylum applications during September and October. According to the officials of Migri, some of the Iraqi asylum seekers have had erroneous assumptions about the country's asylum policy.
On 22 November 2015 it was reported that Finland had appealed to Russia with a proposal to prohibit the crossings at some of the land borders by bicycle. On 27 December 2015, it was reported that Finland had blocked access for people to cross over two Russian border crossings (Raja-Jooseppi andSalla) by bicycles. Many asylum seekers were reported to have earlier crossed the border by bicycles.
On 3 December, the Interior Minister Petteri Orpo announced that special repatriation centers would be established. These centers would be inhabited by the asylum seekers whose applications were declined. While he stressed that these camps would not be prisons, he still described that the inhabitants would be under strict surveillance.
On 4 December 2015, Finland reportedly closed one of its northern border checkpoints before the scheduled time along the Finnish–Russian border. According to Russian media, due to the closure, asylum seekers could not enter the country. Finnish media remained silent on the issue.
On 8 December 2015, Finnish Government announced a policy for action, which notes that the short term aim is to cut off the uncontrolled flow of migrants to Finland. The report stressed on effective deportation of asylum seekers who were not granted refugee status, and on the other hand it will pressurize those who were granted that status to integrate into labour markets. The report declares that the movement of unregistered people inside the Schengen-area needs to be stopped. Furthermore, it notes that Finland will participate in military operations in origin and en-route countries. Furthermore, the report declares, that should Dublin system fail, Finland will prepare for exceptional nationalistic means to ensure such outcome.
On 12 December 2015, Finnish Interior Minister Petteri Orpo announced that if the external borders of EU cannot be fixed, then Schengen, Dublin and in a way whole EU is under serious threat. Further he noted that Finland has imprisoned two asylum seekers, suing them for 11 cases of murder. According to Orpo, because of the failure in registering asylum seekers on the external borders, they can travel all the way to Finland via northern Sweden. He noted that border controls have been improved in harbors, airports and on land border crossings with Sweden.
On 2 January 2016 it was reported, that Finland had issued a command for the Finnlines ferry crossing from Germany to Finland to refuse boarding asylum seekers without visa. German NGOs criticized the decision, and it was still a bit unclear how it could be enforced, especially as a direct visa from Germany to Finland is not available.
On 23 January 2016 it was reported, that Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini concluded that "closing the eastern border is possible" and that if "nothing else helps, then further steps will be taken", without specifying which further measures were under consideration. He stated that if an asylum seeker does not have need for protection, their money will be taken away and themselves deported. As Finland was struggling with a declining economy and increasing unemployment, he noted that the funding of police forces, border control and securing the people "needs to be organized". Furthermore, the press noted that he stressed that the immigration flow seems to be intentionally organized and managed.Later on the same day, it was reported that Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) was organizing the inflow of immigrants to the border.
See also: Asylum in Germany
Migrants waiting for their entry to Germany
Migrants arriving in Munich
Germany has been the most sought-after final destination in the EU migrant and refugee crisis. Thousands of migrants continued to pour into Germany from Austria as of 6 September 2015. Germany's asylum practice is to be based on article 16a of her Basic Law. After the development of the migrant crisis Germany decided to use the derogation possibility of article 17 of the Dublin III Regulation for humanitarian reasons. According toThe Wall Street Journal, this "unilateral" open-arms policy triggered both a domestic and an international backlash. However, Germany immediately began to deploy a quota system to distribute asylum seekers among all German states. In September 2015 the federal states, responsible for accommodation, reached the brink of their capacities and criticised the Government in Berlin for its inconsiderate approach to the crisis.
Protesters gather outside Cologne Cathedral after New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany, January 2016
The Interior Minister announced on 13 September 2015 the introduction of temporary controls on the southern border with Austria and explained the measure with reference to security concerns. The restrictions incorporated a temporary suspension of rail travel from Austria and allowed spot checks on automobiles. On 5 October the German tabloid Bildclaimed to possess a secret document stating that the number of asylum seekers would increase to 1.5 million by the end of 2015. This report was immediately disclaimed by the German ministry of the interior which restated its own estimate of 800,000 applicants "only". Germany has followed a policy of treating migrants under 18 years of age as "children first and refugees second," giving them − according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child − the same rights as German children. In late October 2015, the small village of Sumte, population 102, was told byLower Saxony officials that it would receive 750 asylum-seekers. In January 2016, 18 of 31 men suspected of violent assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve were identified as asylum seekers, prompting calls by German officials to deport convicted criminals who may be seeking asylum; these sexual attacks brought about a fresh wave of anti-immigrant anxiety and protest across Europe.
Between January and December 2015, 1,091,894 arrivals of asylum seekers were registered in Germany’s “EASY” system for the first distribution of asylum seekers among Germany’s federal states; however, asylum applications in 2015 were only 476,649, because many asylum seekers had not formally applied for asylum yet or didn’t stop in Germany and moved on to other EU states.
Island groups of the Aegean Sea
Migrants arrive from the Middle East making the 6-kilometre (4 mi) water crossing to the Greek islands of Chios, Kos andLesbos, which are close to Turkey and are thus a quick and easy access border into Europe. As of June 2015, 124,000 migrants had arrived into Greece, a 750% increase from 2014, mainly refugees stemming from the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Greece appealed to the European Union for assistance, whilst the UNCHR European Director Vincent Cochetel said facilities for migrants on the Greek islands were "totally inadequate" and the islands in "total chaos".
Frontex's Operation Poseidon, aimed at patrolling the Aegean Sea, is badly underfunded and undermanned, with only 11 coastal patrol vessels, one ship, two helicopters, two aircraft and a budget of €18 million.
Human traffickers charge illegal immigrants $1,000 to $1,500 for the 25-minute boat ride from Bodrum, Turkey to Kos. In August 2015, "hundreds" of boats made the crossing carrying illegal immigrants every night. The migrants travel onward to Thessaloniki in the mainland of Greece and estimate that it will cost them €3,000 to €4,000 to reach Germany, and €10,000 or €12,000 to reach Britain. Desperate migrants have fought brawls over places in boats leaving Bodrum for Kos.
In September 2015, the photos of dead 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned when he and his family were in a small inflatable boat which capsized shortly after leaving Bodrum trying to reach the Greek island of Kos, made headlines around the world. Konstantinos Vardakis, the top EU diplomat in Baghdad, told The New York Times that at least 250 Iraqis per day had been landing on Greek islands between mid-August and early September 2015.
See also: Hungarian border barrier
Number of migrants in Hungary per week, May–September 2015
The Hungarian–Serbian border fence
Migrants in Hungary on their march towards Austria
Migrants taking the Balkans route cross into the Schengen Area first in Greece. In June 2015, Hungary said it was contemplating countermeasures against the influx of illegal immigrants from Serbia, a non-EU and non-Schengen state.
On 17 June 2015, the Hungarian government announced the construction of a 4-metre-high (13 ft), 175-kilometre-long (109 mi) fence along its southern border with Serbia.Although Hungary acted in accordance with the Schengen Agreement that obligates countries with external Schengen borders to protect it from illegal crossing and exercise border checks, the European Commission warned EU members against steps that contravene EU obligations and urging members like Hungary to find other ways to cope with an inflow of illegal migrants. The first phase of the construction was finished at the end of August and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that it would be fully completed by the end of 2015.
On 3 September 2015, Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orbán, defended the country's management of the migrant situation internally, notwithstanding chaos at Budapest's main international rail station, while criticising Germany and Europe overall for not dissuading migrants from entering Europe. On the same day, Hungarian police let migrants board a train in Budapest heading west, then stopped it inBicske and tried to transport migrants to a registration camp there. The migrants refused to cooperate and remained on the train, which did not travel further west.
On 4 September 2015, about a thousand of the migrants at Railway Station East (Keleti Pályaudvar) set off by foot toward Austria and Germany. On the same night, the Hungarian government decided to send buses to transport illegal migrants to Hegyeshalom, on the border with Austria.
On 14 September 2015, it was reported that the Hungarian police was blocking the route from Serbia, and that the regular entry-point was heavily manned with officers, soldiers and helicopters hovering above, sealing this border with a razor wire and detaining migrants crossing the border illegally as of 12 am on 15 September 2015 with the threat of arrest and criminal charges. On the Hungarian side, volunteers were seen giving handouts showing a map with alternate routes through Croatia marked, created by the administrators of the Facebook group "Avoid Hungary – Migration news". This has, in turn, resulted in Croatian Facebook commenters urging the migrants to be careful when crossing the Croatia–Serbia border, due to a large number of still active landmines not yet removed since the 1990s' War of Independence. Meanwhile, on 15 September 2015, Hungary sealed its border with Serbia. Several hundred migrants broke the fence between Hungary and Serbia twice on Wednesday, 16 September, and threw chunks of concrete and water bottles over the fence. Hungarian police reacted with tear gas and water cannons at Horgoš 2 border crossing. Belgrade protested these actions but the Serbian police did nothing to stop the violence. A 20-year-old Iraqi refugee has been sentenced to deportation and one-year entry ban in Hungary, as well as €80 in court fees, according to the new law put into action a few days ago. On 18 September, Hungary started building another fence, this time along the border with Croatia, a fellow EU member state, but not part of the Schengen Area. Within two weeks, tens of thousands of refugees crossed from Croatia into Hungary, most of whom went toward the Austrian border.
On 16 October 2015, Hungary announced that it would close its border with Croatia to migrants, and since 17 October onward, thousands of migrants daily were diverted to Slovenia instead.
Main articles: Lampedusa immigrant reception center and Immigration to Italy
Migrants arriving in Italy by sea, 1997–2015
Since 2014, thousands of migrants have been trying every month to cross the Central Mediterranean to Italy, risking their lives on unsafe boats including fishing trawlers. Many of them are fleeing poverty-stricken homelands or war-torn countries and seeking economic opportunity within the EU. Italy, and, in particular, its southern island of Lampedusa, receives enormous numbers of Africans and Middle-Easterners transported by smugglers operating along the ungoverned coast of the failed state of Libya.
Migrants arrived in Lampedusa
In July 2013, Pope Francis visited the island on his first official visit outside of Rome. He prayed for migrants, living and dead, and denounced their traffickers. In October 2013, a disaster occurred; a boat carrying over 500 migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, sank off the coast of Lampedusa with the deaths of at least 300 people. Sicily's regional parliament declared a state of emergency.
In 2014, 170,100 migrants arrived in Italy by sea, a 296% increase compared to 2013. 141,484 of the travellers ferried over from Libya. Most of the migrants had come from Syria, Eritrea and various countries in West Africa.
From January to April 2015, about 1600 migrants died on the route from Libya to Lampedusa, making it the deadliest migrant route in the world. There were 153,842 Mediterranean sea arrivals to Italy in 2015, 9% less than the previous year; most of the refugees and migrants came from Eritrea, Nigeria andSomalia, whereas the number of Syrian refugees sharply decreased, as most of them took the Eastern Mediterranean route to Greece.
Main article: Demographics of Malta § Immigration
Rescued migrants near Malta, October 2013
Between 2008 and 2012, Malta received on average the highest number of asylum seekers compared to its national population: 21.7 applicants per 1,000 inhabitants.:13 In 2011, most of these asylum applications were submitted by nationals ofSomalia, Nigeria, Eritrea and Syria.:26 In 2012, more than half of the requests were by Somalian nationals alone.:45 In a 2013 news story, The Guardian reported, "Before Malta joined the EU in 2004, immigration levels were negligible. Because it is located close to north Africa, it has now become a gateway for migrants seeking entry to Europe."
In 2015, very few migrants arrived in Malta compared to previous years, since most of those rescued were taken to Italy. In September, 78 migrants rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta refused to be brought to Malta. They insisted on going to Italy, and were eventually taken there.
Melilla and Ceuta (Spain)
Main articles: Melilla border fence and Ceuta border fence
The Melilla border fence in Spain
Melilla and Ceuta, two autonomous Spanish cities on the north coast of Africa bordering Morocco, are the only EU territories to share a land border with an African country. The number of undocumented migrants hoping to reach the EU via Melilla or Ceuta grew in 2014. Between January and September 2015, only 100 people out of 3700 hopefuls have managed to cross the Melilla border fence, down from 2100 people from 19,000 attempts the previous year. In October 2015, 165 people were rescued from fourteen attempts to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to reach Ceuta. In a report published on 17 November 2015, Amnesty International called on Spain to cease cooperation with Morocco on immigration matters because of alleged human rights abuses on the Melilla and Ceuta borders. Amnesty said it has "photographs, images and evidence" of "blows with sticks, feet and stones" on migrants attempting to get to Spain.
The Russian Federation/Norway
Border crossing between Russia and Norway near Kirkenes
The number of migrants crossing from the Russian Federation into Norway increased from a handful in the first half of 2015 to 420 asylum seekers crossing by bicycle in September 2015 alone. As of 11 December 2015 over 4,000 migrants/refugees has crossed the Northern border and the right-wing Norwegian government vowed to send all migrants with Russian residence visa back to Russia even if they were from countries experiencing conflicts such as Afghanistan.
See also: Slovenian border barrier
Migrants in Slovenia, 23 October 2015
Slovenia established temporary controls on the otherwise unsupervised border with Hungary in the north east on 17 September 2015, following Germany and Austria's similar actions. On 18 September, Slovenia experienced the first larger and largely illegal border crossing occurrences, coming mostly from Croatia, already overwhelmed by the large influx of migrant groups.
On the evening of 18 September, the Slovenian riot police usedpepper spray on a bridge at the Harmica border to prevent migrants and activists from crossing the border from Croatia.
By midday of 19 September, the country had registered around 1500 migrants, with all of them being accommodated in temporary reception camps or asylum centres. The largest traffic was seen at Obrežje border crossing, Dobova border crossing and Brežice. Prime Minister Miro Cerar visited the reception centre in Brežice on Saturday, stressing that Slovenia had the situation under control, while criticising the Croatian government for being uncooperative.
Arrival of migrants in Dobova, Slovenia
There were also various humanitarian and non-governmental organisations aiding the migrants on the border, coming mostly from Slovenia, Croatia and Austria.
On 18 October 2015, Slovenia began restricting admission to 2,500 migrants per day, stranding migrants in Croatia as well as Serbia and Macedonia.
From 18 October, the country began receiving large numbers of refugees, which soon exceeded the upper admission limit of 2,500. On 22 October, the police reported 12,600 migrant arrivals in 24 hours, reportedly a record, and more than Hungary had received in any one day. The Slovenian government also passed a law giving the army more powers and asked the EU for aid. The latter responded by sending the commissioner for migration to Slovenia, and announcing a "mini EU summit". On the same day the Slovenian government accused the Croatian police of leading migrants through cold waters in an effort to bypass the Slovene controls by crossing the green border, and released a night time thermovision video apparently showing the events on the preceding night.
By 24 October, Slovenia had reported more than 56,000 total migrant arrivals.
On 10 November, Prime Minister Cerar announced that Slovenia would impose temporary technical hurdles to control migrants, but that the country would not close border crossings. On 11 November, Slovenian military personnel began the construction of the fence consisting of razor wire. The Austrian minister of the interior Johanna Mikl-Leitner expressed full support for the Slovenian government's action on the border with Croatia.
In November 2015, Sweden reintroduced border controls for arrivals, including the Öresund Bridge. This did not have so much effect on the inflow of asylum seekers, since they had the right to apply for asylum once they were on Swedish ground. In December 2015, Sweden passed a temporary law that allows the government to oblige all transport companies to check that their passengers carry valid photographic identification before border crossing. The new law came into effect on 21 December 2015 and is valid until 21 December 2018. The government decided that the new rules will apply from 4 January 2016 until 4 July 2016. The new law led to the mandatory train change and passage through border control atCopenhagen Airport station for travellers between Copenhagen and Sweden, and with a reduction in service frequency. On the first day of border controls this led to a reduction in the number of migrants arriving to southern Sweden from the previous hundreds to some dozens. Within hours of Swedish border control becoming effective, Denmark in turn created a border control between Denmark and Germany. The migration pattern also changed with the majority of those arriving by ferry from Germany to Trelleborg instead of by train to Hyllie station, bypassing the border control between Denmark and Germany. Migrants then started taking taxis in greater numbers over the Öresund Bridge in order to evade identification. Three days later, a Danish cab driver was arrested for human trafficking near the Øresund Bridge. In January 2016 newspaper Sydsvenskan reported that the migration flow had led to an increase of MRSA infections in southernmost Skåne province where many migrants are received, from 160 cases in 2005 to more than 635 cases in 2015.
The vast majority of migrants and refugees entering Europe by sea in 2015, nearly half million by September, arrived from Turkey, according to the United Nations. Turkish officials attempting to deter migration facilitated by smugglers have detained 57,000 travellers and over 100 human traffickers in 2015 through September.
Triggers of the summer 2015 crisis
Concert “Voices for Refugees” at the Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, 3 October 2015
Factors cited as immediate triggers or causes of the sudden and massive increase in migrant numbers in the summer of 2015 along the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan route (Turkey-Greece-Macedonia-Serbia-Hungary) include:
In mid-June 2015 the government of Macedonia announced that it was changing its policy on migrants entering the country illegally. Previously, migrants were forbidden from transiting Macedonia, causing those who chose to do so to take perilous, clandestine modes of transit, such as walking along railroad tracks at night. Beginning in June, migrants were given three-day, temporary asylum permits, enabling them to travel by train and road.
The opening of the Macedonia route enabled migrants from the Middle East to take very short, inexpensive voyages from the coast of Turkey to the Greek Islands, instead of the far longer, more perilous, and far more expensive voyage from Libya to Italy. According to the Washington Post, in addition to reducing danger, this lowered the cost from around $5–6,000 to $2–3,000.
According to the Washington Post, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's public pledges (at a time of diplomatic standoff with the government of Hungary at the beginning of September, when tens of thousands of refugees were attempting to cross Hungarian territory without getting processed for asylum application in the country) that Germany would offer temporary residency to refugees, combined with television footage of cheering Germans welcoming refugees and migrants arriving in Munich, persuaded large numbers of people to move from Turkey up the Balkan route.
The Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad announced increased military conscription, and simultaneously made it easier for Syrians to obtain passports, leading Middle East policy experts to speculate that he was implementing a policy to encourage opponents of his regime to leave the country.
Closure of green borders
The entry routes through the Balkans have experienced the greatest intensity of border restrictions in the 2015 EU migrant crisis, according to The New York Times and other sources, as follows:
See also: Border barrier § Greece
Greece built a razor-wire fence in 2012 along its short land border with Turkey. In September 2015, Turkish provincial authorities gave approximately 1,700 migrants three days to leave the border zone.
See also: Border barrier § Bulgaria
As a result of Greece's diversion of migrants to Bulgaria from Turkey, Bulgaria built its own fence to block migrants crossing from Turkey.
See also: Macedonian border barrier
In August 2015, a police crackdown on migrants crossing from Greece failed in Macedonia, causing the police to instead turn their att