Record number of migrants entered EU last month

Pakistani and Afghan migrants awaiting registration outside a police station on the Greek island of Kos yesterday. Some 250,000 migrants have already crossed the Mediterranean this year to Italy and Greece. The number is expected to pass 300,000 by e
Pakistani and Afghan migrants awaiting registration outside a police station on the Greek island of Kos yesterday. Some 250,000 migrants have already crossed the Mediterranean this year to Italy and Greece. The number is expected to pass 300,000 by end of the year.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

GENEVA • A record 107,500 migrants crossed European Union (EU) borders last month, according to new figures showing that they are arriving in dramatically increasing numbers and creating a humanitarian crisis for the 28-nation bloc.

EU border agency Frontex reported that its latest figures far outstripped the previous monthly record in June of 70,000.

During the first seven months of the year, there were nearly 340,000 migrants, up from 123,500 during the same period last year, Frontex said.

"This is an emergency situation for Europe that requires all EU member states to step in to support the national authorities which are taking on a massive number of migrants at its borders," Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri said on Tuesday.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said in the last week alone, 20,843 migrants - virtually all of them fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq - arrived in Greece, which has seen around 160,000 migrants land on its shores since January.

  • 107,500

    Migrants crossed into the EU in July

    70,000

    Crossed into the EU in June

    340,000

    Number of migrants in first seven months of this year

    123,500

    Number of migrants in the same period last year

"The pace of arrivals has been steadily increasing in recent weeks," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said.

But the wave of migrants has impacted Europe from its southern islands to the northern countries.

Germany, as Europe's economic powerhouse, has become the refugees' top destination, with one in three who arrived in the EU last year seeking asylum there.

According to the Handelsblatt newspaper, Berlin expects up to three-quarters of a million people to apply for asylum this year.

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres called on Tuesday for more solidarity among European countries in taking in asylum-seekers, insisting it was "unsustainable" for Germany, along with Sweden, to take in the majority of refugees.

Meanwhile, France and Britain are preparing to sign a deal this week to try to alleviate the migrant crisis in the northern French port of Calais, where thousands of people desperate to get to Britain through the Channel tunnel have gathered.

And there is no sign the flood of migrants into Europe will subside.

Some 250,000 migrants have already crossed the Mediterranean this year to Italy and Greece, and the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday it expected that number to pass 300,000 by the end of the year.

The surge in migrant numbers is most visible in debt-strapped Greece, which has largely failed to provide any support to the tens of thousands of migrants wallowing in squalid conditions.

"For months, the UNHCR has been warning of a mounting refugee crisis on the Greek islands," Mr Spindler said, insisting that the "reception infrastructure, services and registration procedures both on the islands and on the mainland need to be strengthened urgently."

When the migrants arrive on the Greek islands, there is little, if anything, for them and most have been forced to sleep outdoors. Greece has taken some steps to address the problem, including sending a large ferry to Kos to serve as a registration and housing facility for refugees.

The debt-ravaged country has said the huge influx is too much for it to handle alone and has pleaded for more EU help.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Record number of migrants entered EU last month'. Print Edition | Subscribe