EU numbers on migration are only the start

Brussels, Belgium. As the EU prepares to nuke Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary over their refusal to accept more migrants, statistics from the legal action really bring home the scale of the disaster some are calling the “end of Europe.”

News Front looks at the numbers that tell a deeper story. The basic facts are stark: Since 2014, more than 1.6 million people have arrived in Europe by sea while 13,500 have died on the way. The migration crisis has no official starting point but statistics from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) offer some chronological yardsticks.

Each year has seen stark increases in migrants since 2011, 2014 marked a first turning point with 1,70,100 people landing on Italian shores and 43,518 on Greek coastlines, up from 42,900 and 11,447 respectively the previous year.

2015 was the year where everything went to hell in a handbag. The IOM registered 1,011,712 arrivals by sea in Europe, including 853,650 on Greek shores, with the peak in arrivals hit in October, and 153,842 on Italy’s coastline.

For Greece in 2015, more than half — 56.l per cent — were Syrian, while 24.3 per cent were from Afghanistan and 10.3 per cent were from Iraq.

Most came to Greece across the Aegean Sea from Turkey. While the EU struggled to forge a collective response and help Greece cope with the influx, most of the migrants trekked along the so-called Balkan route toward wealthy northern European countries like Germany and Sweden destroying social welfare protections that set the standard globally for over 50 years before being overwhelmed.

The arrivals on the Italian coast in 2015 came on the central Mediterranean route, mainly from sub-Saharan African countries: 39,162 Eritreans, 22,237 Nigerians, 12,433 Somalis and 8,932 Sudanese.

There was a sharp drop in migrant arrivals in Greece in 2016, with the IOM registering a total of 363,401 arrivals on Greek and Italian shores, about one-third as many as the previous year. Of those in Greece, 173,614 arrived by sea, a drop of nearly 80 percent, reflecting the combined impact of a controversial migrant deal between Turkey and the EU and the nearly total closure of the Balkans route.

The trend is continuing in 2017, with just 7,699 arrivals registered by the IOM in Greece during the first five months of the year. But the lull in Aegean crossings is tenuous as Turkey is increasingly at odds with the EU and has threatened to scrap the migrant deal over European criticism of its crackdown after an attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At any time “mad dog” Erdogan can open that flood of migrants with a snap of the fingers.

So far this year, figures confirm that the central Mediterranean route has once again become, by far, the main channel to Europe. Italy meanwhile has seen arrivals continue apace, hitting a new record in 2016 with 181,436. Italy has registered more than 65,000 arrivals since January, up nearly 20 per cent from the same period last year.

While the migration crisis is often portrayed as a crisis facing the EU’s roughly 510 million people, smaller countries outside the region have received a far higher proportion of arrivals.Turkey hosts 3.2 million refugees, Lebanon shelters more than one million and Jordan is home to 660,000 according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The vast majority are Syrians.

Currently there are over 6 million migrants moving toward European Migration across Northern Africa alone. The Baltic States and the Ukraine have offered to take as many migrants as Brussels will deliver, but for a price and assurances of continued support. Meanwhile Europe slowly collapses into a disaster it never could imagine just 5 years ago.