Fewer persons crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2016 didn’t mean fewer deaths. In fact, the number of migrant and refugee deaths reached a record high last year. At least 4690 persons were reported dead or missing in 2016, according to the IOM’s Missing Migrant database. This represented a 25 percent increase from 2015.
While saving lives at sea remains challenging, 74 humanitarian partners, including IOM and UNHCR, are coming together in 2017 to coordinate response efforts and reinforce government efforts to provide safer and faster access to asylum, ensure refugees and migrants are being protected and that they receive adequate services.
The new strategy, which aims to serve up to 394,000 displaced individuals, was unveiled last month with a USD 691 million funding appeal.
1 - Two Main Migratory Routes in 2016
Last year, most refugees and migrants have crossed by boat from Libya to Italy or from Turkey to Greece through the Aegean Sea. Both countries, Italy and Greece recorded each a similar number of 170,000 arrivals in 2016. This year, sea arrivals to Italy from North Africa, and in particular from Libya, are expected to rise due to the ongoing instability in the North African nation. In 2017, Turkey will remain an important point of departure for refugees and migrants seeking entry into Europe.
2 – Turkey Remains World’s Biggest Refugee Country
With over 2.7 million Syrians under temporary protection and more than 285,000 asylum-seekers and refugees of other nationalities, Turkey is the country that hosts the largest number of refugees in the world. Turkey also hosts a large number of irregular migrants; however there is no direct or reliable data on irregular migration. Turkey has been a departure and transit point for sea and land crossings. It is projected that about 35,000 migrants and refugees may be intercepted, apprehended, rescued at sea in 2017.
3 - Number of Migrant and Refugee Arrivals in Greece to Keep Decreasing
As a result of the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, the number of arrivals to Greece decreased significantly in 2016. The number of daily arrivals averaged 80 individuals during the last quarter of the year. According to the response plan, the estimated total number of refugees and migrants in Greece by the end of 2017 will be 67,000 with a total of 40,000 estimated new arrivals over the course of 2017.
4 - Refugees and Migrants Are Fleeing War and Poverty
As long as the root causes of displacement are not being addressed the majority of migrant and refugee flows will be made up of people seeking safety and protection. Almost 60 percent of those who arrived in Europe in 2016 came from the world’s top 10 refugee-producing countries, primarily from Syria (23%), Afghanistan (12%), Nigeria (10%) and Iraq (8%).
5 - Children Make Up More Than a Quarter of Total Arrivals
In 2016, children arrivals in Europe made up 27 percent of the total number with an increase of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC). Over 25,000 of unaccompanied and separated children arrived by sea in Italy alone in 2016. As a result, humanitarian partners will give a special attention to refugee and migrant children, including UASC. However, the plan points out at the limited reception capacity for UASC. In 2016, just 16,000 places were available compared to approximately 27,300 children that arrived in Italy, of which 91 percent (24,844) were unaccompanied. In addition of increasing reception capacity, the plan aims to develop national protection standards for the reception of the most vulnerable, such as prevention and response standards for children and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
6 – Special Attention to Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
The new humanitarian response is designed to help prevent SGBV incidents and to offer particular services to survivors of SGBV. Personnel in contact with refugees and migrants will be trained to identify signs of abuse, violence and exploitation. They will be also taught interviewing techniques to assist and refer children, women and men who have gone through abusive experience. The plan also aims to provide an easier access to medical, psychosocial, mental health, and legal services for survivors of SGBV.
7 – Protection Is a Priority
Thirty seven percent - USD 254 million – of the total budget required will be dedicated to protection-related assistance. Among some of the activities developed in the plan, humanitarian partners will continue to carry out protection monitoring out at border areas, and to inspect detention centers, reception centers and other locations, to ensure compliance with all aspects of international refugee and human rights law. In order to better inform planning and operations, qualitative and quantitative gender- and age-disaggregated data will be regularly collected, analyzed, and reported.
8 - Access to Health Care and Reproductive Care Services for Women
The plan affirms that the lack of access to health care and reproductive care services to migrant and refugee women increase the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion and serious health consequences for victims of gender-based violence. Under the 2017 humanitarian response, these services will be strengthened and the access to these services will be broadened. The plan acknowledges that both refugees and migrant women and men are more at risk of violence, forced sex, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and hepatitis B.
9 - Housing Shortages and Overcrowded Reception Centers
Housing shortages in some European countries result in longer stays in asylum-seeker centers, which in turns lengthens the period before which beneficiaries can begin the integration process in the host country. In the new plan, the partnering agencies warn keeping displaced population in overcrowded reception sites and detention facilities take a tool on their psychosocial wellbeing. Additionally, the lack of adequate security in some of these sites represents a major protection challenge, and increases the risks of abuse, violence and exploitation, including from traffickers and smugglers.
10 – Greece to Focus on Education for Displaced Children
As of December 19, 2016, nearly 62,500 migrants and refugees remained in Greece, including a large number of children who, for the majority, have been out of school for several years. Within the 2017 humanitarian response plan, partnering agencies will support Greece’s national and local authorities to facilitate the enrolment and regular attendance of displaced children in formal education (preschool, primary and secondary education.) In order to prevent children from dropping out of school, complementary mother tongue education, will be also provided. The education partners will also focus their efforts on social integration for both refugee and Greek children with sensitization, inter-cultural and civic education activities.
Download and read the 2017 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RRMRP) here
Contribute to the implementation of the new strategy by making a donation today here