HUFFINGTON POST

Greece Sees Slight Uptick In Refugee Arrivals In August

The coup in Turkey could be part of the reason.
A woman sits outside a building covered with sheets to protect the dwellers from the strong summer sun outside of the Ellinik
A woman sits outside a building covered with sheets to protect the dwellers from the strong summer sun outside of the Ellinikon International Airport, where stranded refugees and migrants are temporarily accommodated in Athens, Greece, on Aug. 10, 2016.

New figures released this week by the International Organization for Migration show a slight uptick in the number of migrants and refugees arriving on Greek shores in August, after a steep overall decline in the wake of an agreement between Turkey and the European Union aimed at containing migrant and refugee flow.

IOM reported that 2,808 people arrived in Greece by sea in August, the highest number documented since April. In July, there were 1,920 arrivals.

The number of people coming to Greece fell off sharply after Turkey agreed in March to take back asylum seekers who arrived on Greek shores.

This graph from IOM compares the arrival figures for Greece from 2015 and 2016.
This graph from IOM compares the arrival figures for Greece from 2015 and 2016.

The report from the IOM also notes that 3,601 people reached Greece between July 15 ― the day of the attempted coup in Turkey ― and Aug. 28.

An official from the United Nations’ refugee agency told The Guardian this week that in the wake of the coup attempt, Turkey has put its deal with the EU in jeopardy by withdrawing supervising Turkish officers from the Greek islands and not allowing the UN access to the two main Turkish deportation centers that house returning refugees.

And after Greek authorities documented 462 arrivals by sea between Aug. 29 and 30, with most people coming to the islands of Lesbos and Kos, fresh worries about an imminent collapse of the Turkey deal resurfaced among Greek media.

But a spokesman for Greece’s minister of migration said those concerns seem to be unfounded, for now.

“We are watching the situation very closely, but so far we don’t observe the sort of change which would imply that there is intention to break the deal on the part of Turkey,” Kyriakos Mantouvalos told The WorldPost.

Mantouvalos noted that the average number of monthly arrivals has not increased dramatically this summer, and that things were far worse last year.

“It may seem that numbers have picked up now, but around the same time last year, when the weather was also good but there was no deal in place, we had around 4,000 arrivals a day in Lesbos,” he said.

An IOM spokesman said that in addition to more people making their way to Greece in the past few weeks, it seems others are shifting course and attempting to enter Europe through Bulgaria.

Overall, the figures are declining: The total number of arrivals to Greece by sea since the beginning of 2016 is 163,105. In the first eight months of last year, that figure was 234,357.

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