About 6,750 desperate Nigerian migrants have made it to Europe in the first six months of this year, taking the risky trip through the Sahara Desert to Libya and then another risky trip on rickety boats through the Mediterranean to southern Europe.
This accounts for 5 per cent of the 135,000 refugees and migrants that arrived in Europe by sea in the first half of 2015, a new report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said today.
Syria, which has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011, accounted for nearly 44,000 people, representing 34 per cent of the immigrants, making them the largest group coming to Europe’s shores.
The report said instability in Libya was another reason for the increase.
Eritrea and Afghanistan were the second and third-largest countries of origin, accounting for 12 per cent each, the report said.
Somalia, like Nigeria, accounts for another 5 per cent.
Most of the burden of the new migrants are being borne by Greece and Italy, countries in southern Europe. Italy as at 29 June is accommodating 67,500 refugees, while economically sapped Greece has 68,000 migrants on its territory.
Malta and Spain account for 94 and 1,230 immigrants.
“Desperate people resort to desperate measures and unfortunately … the numbers are expected to continue to soar,” said Brian Hansford, a spokesperson for UNHCR.
The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe in the first six months of 2015 increased more than 80 percent increase from the same time period in 2014, the UNHCR report said.
It comes as European Union leaders remain divided over how best to solve the growing migrant crisis.
Read the full report here: http://www.unhcr.org/5592bd059.html#_ga=1.251512710.1682756360.1435743394 As arrivals increase, reception capacity and conditions remain seriously inadequate.
The increase in refugees and migrants, many braving dangerous Mediterranean waters in unsafe boats, has hit countries in southern Europe particularly hard, the report said.
Refugees and migrants have been pouring into the western Balkans from Greece and since the beginning of June, over 1,000 people have been entering every day “as opposed to 200 just a few weeks ago,” the report said.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi rebuked fellow EU leaders last week for failing to agree on a plan to take in 40,000 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece.
“As arrivals increase, the reception capacity and conditions remain seriously inadequate,” Hansford said. “This is a regional problem that needs a regional response and regional solidarity.”
The report added, however, that increased EU funding for rescue operations has meant a decrease in the number of deaths at sea since May.