EU: More, more, more migrants and mounting land crossings
As more and more migrants try to reach Europe, new smuggling routes are being opened. Western European countries believe the arrivals could be far higher than some estimates suggest, with EU border states allowing many migrants to pass through their territory unrecorded.
Published: May 8, 2018, 12:37 pm
More than 22 000 Africans reached the shores of the bloc in 2018, the United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported. At least 22 439 migrants and refugees traveled to Europe by sea in the first 122 days of this year.
Dutch authorities however complained that as many as 95 percent of illegal migrants in the Netherlands arrived via other EU states, without having been registered anywhere.
Regulations demand that failed asylum seekers can only be deported to the first EU country they arrived in. For that reason, countries that act as the first point of entry for illegal migrants into the EU, often fail to register the arrivals to prevent the illegals from being returned.
In a letter seen by the Times of London, Dutch migration minister Mark Harbers challenged the European Commission’s assurances that “the registration and fingerprinting of migrants arriving in Greece and Italy has reached a rate of almost 100 percent”.
The Dutch government has accused Italy and Greece of failing to register at least two thirds of illegal arrivals to their countries.
Their failure to uphold the law has created a pull factor for illegal immigration, the Dutch minister complained, and it undermines the European Union’s Schengen agreement.
“Only one third have been registered previously. This means about two thirds still manage to enter and travel through other member states undetected and unregistered, despite all measures taken to improve registration.”
“The Netherlands ends up granting protection to large numbers of asylum seekers who consciously refuse to apply for protection in the member state of first arrival,” according to Harbers. “Giving asylum seekers this de facto choice of which member state they want to settle in is in itself a pull factor.”
Under EU law, member states are not permitted to deport failed asylum seekers who do not provide a country of origin, essentially making them stateless individuals.
The IOM records migrant movement worldwide, and according to the organization, 42 percent of illegal seaborne migrants have already arrived in Italy, 38 percent in Greece, and 20 percent in Spain.
The agency, based in Geneva, Switzerland, recorded 45 540 arrivals in the same period in 2017, and 184 793 in 2016. A total of 815 000 migrants were recorded arriving through Greece in 2015, Breitbart reported. And although migrant numbers appear to be decreasing, they may be deceptive. Greece may actually be facing another major influx not from the sea, but overland as migrants cross over from Turkey.
The IOM has noted an increase in land crossings. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) revealed their own independent figures showing a spike in arrivals to almost 3 000 in April.
A mayor of one Greek border town confirmed that “far more are coming than are actually being registered”.
Human traffickers have also been using the dangerous Black Sea route to Europe again, heading for Romania, but the latest IOM bulletin did not cite figures for this smuggling route.
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