Facts and figures of EU migration crisis belie common perceptions

Berlin  – The number of migrants reaching Europe from northern Africa has been in steady decline, even as the debate on how to cope with them heats up. Some facts and figures follow ahead of a two-day EU summit in Brussels:

How many refugees are there in the EU?
At the end of 2017, there were around 22.3 million refugees living in the EU, according to the UNHCR refugee agency. This is about 0.45 per cent of the total EU population of more than 511 million.

How many migrants are currently arriving via the Mediterranean?
The numbers have declined. Between January 1 and June 24, 2018, 43,000 migrants embarked on the hazardous crossing, around half as many as in the same period last year, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The equivalent figure for 2016 was more than five times higher.

How many have died during the crossing?
The number of people found dead and declared missing has declined correspondingly. According to the IOM, this figure was around 1,000 in the first half of the year, with around two-thirds of these deaths occurring on the central route to Italy. In 2017, more than 2,150 died in the first half year, almost all on the route to Italy.

Which are the main countries of entry?
Their geographical position makes Italy, Greece and Spain the main points of entry. Until the end of June, some 40 per cent of migrants landed in Italy, with the rest divided evenly between Greece and Spain. Only a tiny minority reached Cyprus.

What is the situation in Italy?
Significantly fewer people are reaching Italy than in recent years, when the average was around 156,000 migrants a year. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the head of the anti-immigrant League, aims to close the borders to any further arrivals. From the beginning of the year until June 24, just over 16,400 men, women and children came ashore, compared to almost 73,000 during the same period in 2017. According to the UNHCR, there were around 167,000 migrants living in the country at the end of 2017, equivalent to 0.28 per cent of the population of 60.5 million.

 

What is the situation in Spain?
Migrant numbers have risen recently in the western Mediterranean. June saw the highest number of arrivals – more than 5,300 – on the Spanish coast in four years, according to the IOM. Thus far in 2018, there have been 13,500 arrivals, compared to just 1,750 in the first half of 2015. At the end of 2017, there were around 17,500 migrants living in Spain, equivalent to 0.04 per cent of the population.

And Greece?
In 2015, Greece had to cope with the arrival of 850,000 migrants, but since the EU struck a deal to return migrants to Turkey, that figure has fallen dramatically. After taking in around 174,000 in 2016 and almost 29,600 in 2017, this year so far around 13,000 have crossed the eastern Mediterranean to Greece. At the end of 2017, there were slightly fewer than 33,000 migrants living in Greece, equivalent to 0.3 per cent of the population.

Which EU country has taken in the most migrants?
Germany is at the top in absolute terms, ahead of France and Sweden. At the end of 2017, there were 970,400 asylum seekers in Germany, according to the UNHCR. However, as a proportion of the population, Germany with 117 refugees per 10,000 inhabitants lies behind Sweden at 241, Malta at 174 and Austria at 131. Using economic wealth as an indicator, Malta takes in the highest proportion in the EU, with Germany in sixth place.

Which EU countries take in the fewest migrants?
At the end of 2017, there were fewer than 1,000 refugees living respectively in Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia and Slovakia. In Poland and Hungary – countries strongly opposed to taking in new arrivals – there were three and six migrants per 10,000 residents, respectively