More than 218,000 migrants and refugees entered Europe last month – roughly the same number of people crossing in all of 2014. With no end in sight to violence in Syria and Afghanistan, refugees from these countries represent about 71 percent of all migrants, humanitarians are calling for safe and legal passages for those fleeing conflict.
European countries are failing to do enough to stop migrant deaths, the Greek branch of Amnesty International charged on Monday. The human rights group focused specifically on the Aegean Sea where more than 450 people died trying to reach Greece this year. The U.K. branch followed up today by urging European countries to provide more than the £25 million pledged to help Greece, Serbia and Macedonia take in refugees.
“The response must include responsibility-sharing among all EU countries – including the U.K. – for refugees already in Europe, and developing safe and legal routes so people who need asylum in Europe can get it without having to turn to people smugglers and make highly dangerous journeys across land and sea,” said Steve Symonds, Amnesty U.K.’s refugee expert, in a news release. “As the weather across Europe turns, a humane and effective response is needed now more than ever, before many more lives are lost.”
Some 744,000 refugees have arrived in Europe so far this year. The U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) released a plan last month accounting for 700,000 arrivals in 2015 and the same for next year. But current figures surpass that projection, and, at the current pace, the number of refugees could crack 1 million by year’s end.
“We hope that there will be some reductions in the number of people crossing this year, simply to help with the manageability of the situation, but unfortunately, the underlying causes that are making people move across the Mediterranean to Europe are still there,” said Adrian Edwards, spokesman for UNHCR.
Many of the people fleeing for Europe reach the region through Greece. They then make their way north through Serbia and Hungary to reach France, Germany and Sweden. People traveling the route face significant resistance in some countries and little aid. Countries are struggling to keep up with the increasing number of people, as are the Middle Eastern countries that still host the majority of Syrian refugees.
Nearly 4 million Syrian refugees are in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. They are struggling under the pressure. Conditions for the refugees are such that many are deciding to seek better lives in Europe. The solutions for Syria and its refugee crisis may be opaque, but the humanitarian problem is clearly getting worse.