- February arrivals already equivalent to number in spring 2015
- Hungary achieves dramatic reduction - by putting up razor wire
European Union countries are ever-more at odds over how to deal with thousands of refugees fleeing the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Some 110,000 people have crossed the sea to Greece, Italy and Spain in the first two months of this year, after about a million made the journey in 2015. The EU’s 28 governments are as far apart as ever from a common stance on how to cope with the crisis.
Leaders meet on March 7 to seek solutions. That could include pressing Turkey to do more to stop refugees leaving in the first place, helping Greece manage arrivals, and kicking life into a moribund plan to disperse migrants in the bloc. The following charts illustrate a crisis that’s far from over:
- The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean reached a peak in October when about 220,000 made the perilous journey, according to the UNHCR. While the level tailed off as weather conditions deteriorated, February’s total is already greater than May’s final figure when temperatures were warmer and seas were smooth, and is far larger than at the same point in 2015, before the exodus began.
- The EU agreed to “a significant, if partial, reduction of the pressure on the most affected member states” and solidarity with those on the front line of refugee arrivals by agreeing to share the burden. Five months later, as governments have dragged their feet and blamed each other, the plan has flopped, and the 160,000 relocation target remains unfulfilled.
- Authorities in Hungary say that at its peak in September as many as 10,000 migrants were crossing into the country. That stopped when Viktor Orban’s government decided to build a razor-wire barrier, first on the border with Serbia and then with Croatia. The results are striking. While other countries in the region continue to see the arrival of hundreds of a day -- even during colder weather -- Hungary is getting just a trickle.
- Speaking at the Munich Security Conference earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized that Europe’s refugee crisis wasn’t just rooted in Syria. “The flood of desperate migrants has now spread well beyond the Middle East,” he said. “Half of them now come from places other than Syria. Think about that -- Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan. So the burdens of Europe, which is already facing a complex economic, political, and social strain, is now even more intense.”