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Migrant crisis

In collaboration with INTERSOS Humanitarian Organization, Luigi Achilli of the MPC has authored a new MPC Research Report (2016/01) entitled “Tariq al-Euroba: displacement trends of Syrian asylum seekers to the EU”. Read the full report here

Migration and refugee movements in the Mediterranean countries have gained unprecedented momentum in recent months. The situation along migratory routes to Europe and within Europe itself is changing faster than ever before. Opinions of all kinds flourish, often without the necessary base of accurate, up-to-date information.

MPC website on the migrant crisis is aimed at providing a mixed audience comprised of the media, policy-makers and politicians, migration stakeholders, and the academic community, with the facts needed to understand the course of events and make informed judgments. The website will be enriched and updated on a weekly basis. It will offer in one single place comprehensive, detailed, multidimensional and multi-sited information gathered from a wide variety of sources either opened or not to public access. It aims at providing the facts with a level of details that no other single source offers.

The website will gather all the relevant data (statistics, graphs, maps, legislations, documents from governments and other stakeholders, etc.), accompanied by analytical notes and policy briefs. It will cover all the countries on the main migration routes to the EU, allowing comparison between EU and non-EU countries.

Country notes

EU countries

  Cyprus

Cyprus

Refugee population

Unlike Greece or Italy, Cyprus has not experienced large inflows of refugees by sea. According to the UNHCR, 5,126 refugees resided in Cyprus in 2014. In 2014, 1,480 first-time asylum applications were made, an increase from 1,150 in 2013 (Eurostat data). In 2014, the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were Syrian (995), Ukrainian (95) and Egyptian (85).

The government’s approach

Cyprus made significant efforts to accept those seeking asylum.

The country made a preference for Christian refugees.

The Cypriote government donated funds to the Council of Europe Development Bank for the refugee crisis.

In October 2015, two boats carrying 114 Syrian refugees arrived at a British airbase in Cyprus, leading to a dispute between the UK and Cyprus over which country is responsible for the resettlement.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Several organisations assist refugees, providing legal counselling, accommodation, food, medical care, etc.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, just 4 per cent of respondents in Cyprus declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was a decrease of 4 percentage points since autumn 2014.

  Estonia

Estonia

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR 90 refugees resided in Estonia in 2014. In 2014, 145 first time asylum applications were made, compared to 95 in 2013 (Eurostat data). In 2014 the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were Ukraine (60), Russia and Sudan (20 each).

The government’s approach

In June 2015, the Estonian Prime Minister said that Estonia accepting 100 refugees annually does not amount to mass immigration. He also condemned anti-immigrant stances.

The Estonian government voted in favour of the refugee quota assigned to the country by the European Commission.

In August 2014, the Ministry of Justice held a roundtable discussing strategy for the integration of refugees. Among participants was head imam of the Estonian Muslim community. The roundtable discussed measures to be taken to integrate refugees, including compulsory language learning provided free of charge. The roundtable should result in a report about areas requiring regulation, to be discussed with civil society organisations working with migrants.

The roundtable was criticised by refugee aid organisations, which were not invited to take part.

Recent debate about burqa ban in public spaces polarised Estonians. The suggestion received criticism on part of the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

In 2014, in response to the crisis in the Ukraine, the Estonian Human Rights Centre provided information and legal counselling to those seeking asylum.

Protests followed Estonia’s declaration to accept refugees over the next two years. The only relocation centre for refugees in Estonia saw a demonstration of right-wing bikers. In September the facility was damaged by fire.

The council of the town of Valga (on the border with Latvia) announced its readiness to receive refugees and support for refugee integration in the community.

Media

Commentators warn about xenophobia and racism in the newspapers and online portals.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, 24 per cent of respondents in Estonia declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was an increase of 19 percentage point from autumn 2014.

  Greece

Greece

Refugee population

Greece has become the refugees’ first gate entry into the EU. Between January and August 2015, over 271,000 migrants were smuggled by sea or land to Greece.

According to the UNHCR, 10,304 refugees resided in Greece in 2014. In 2014, 7,585 first time asylum applications were made, down from 7,860 in 2013 (Eurostat data). In 2014 the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were Afghanistan (1,710), Pakistan (1,620) and Syria (785).

The majority of refugees arriving in Greece do not apply for asylum there. They leave Greece (and the EU) transiting through Balkans and Hungary (where they re-enter the EU), towards Western and Northern European destinations.

In particular, the Greek islands struggle with the influx of people; some of the islands lack registration and reception centres. Police clashes with refugees are reported.

Recently, following deaths and the number of people missing at sea, refugees increasingly choose to cross the Turkish-Greek land border.

The government’s approach

The Greek government emphasised the European dimension of the refugee crisis and at European summits asked for existing tools and emergency funds to be utilised as Greece faces increasing inflows of refugees. The government also asked for European solidarity to respond to the crisis.

The refugee issue was one of the key themes during the campaign preceding the parliamentary elections in September 2015. The opposition accused the Syriza government of an open-door migration strategy. In Greece, support for the far right seems to be strong with the Golden Dawn party now the third biggest party in the Greek parliament.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Volunteers distributed food, water, clothing, provided accommodation and organised transport for refugees arriving on the Greek islands.

On the mainland, before the government opened the Eleonas camp for refugees in Athens, civil society was active in providing facilities and services to refugees. In the Pedio tou Areos park hosting refugees, volunteers managed the distribution of food, clothes, and activities for children.

A solidarity march with refugees took place in Athens.

Attacks on refugees were reported. Police had to intervene.

Media

The media reporting tends to be data-based. The coverage presents different aspects of refugee crisis, integrating testimonials of refugees and the islands’ residents.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, 11 per cent of Greeks declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was an increase of 5 percentage points from autumn 2014.

  Italy

Italy

Refugee population

Italy has become one of the main gates of entry into the EU for refugees and undocumented migrants. Between January and the beginning of September 2015, over 121,000 migrants were smuggled by sea or land to Italy.

According to the UNHCR, 93,715 refugees resided in Italy in 2014. In 2014, 63,655 first time asylum applications were made, growing sharply from 25,720 in 2013. In 2014, the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were Nigeria (10,135), Mali (9,790) and Gambia (8,575).

The Mediterranean is one of the main migrant routes, with increasing numbers of drowned or missing people at sea (including a vessel sinking with over 800 on board in April 2015). Some of the sea crossings are facilitated by the smugglers.

The small island of Lampedusa (the most southern point of Italy) hosts a reception centre with capacity for up to a few hundred refugees, but the reality is that at times it hosts over 1,000 people.

Many refugees entering Italy wish to continue their journey towards Northern Europe. In June 2015, those trying to move onwards through Ventimiglia at the Italian-French border were stranded in Italy as France denied them entry.

The government’s approach

Between October 2013 and October 2014, the Italian government ran the search-and-rescue operation Mare Nostrum in the Mediterranean sea. In November 2014, Mare Nostrum was replaced with the EU-run operation Triton, the latter focusing more on control and prevention. In October 2015 the EU began operation Sophia, aimed against human smuggling.

The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has repeatedly asked for European solidarity as the inflows continued. In June 2015, he threatened the EU with the provision of Schengen visas to migrants if there was no deal involving other Member States sharing the burden of the refugee crisis.

The government appealed to the regions to host asylum seekers arriving in Italy. Roberto Maroni – governor of Lombardy, a northern region of the country, and member of the anti-immigrant party Northern League member– threatened municipalities accepting migrants with financial cuts. A similar stance was taken by Veneto and Liguria regions’ leaders.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Solidarity marches for the refugees were organised in large cities, but demonstrations against immigration also attracted followers.

Church and several civil society organisations showed solidarity with refugees. For instance, an appeal was made by Archbishop of Milan to parishes in the Lombardy region to host refugees. Hundreds of families accepted to host refugees in response to a call by the non-governmental organisation, Amici dei Bambini..

Media

Anti-immigrant rhetoric is present, but there are also accounts emphasising the positive economic impact of migration.

The newspaper La Repubblica was among the signatories of the open call by European newspaper editors urging the EU to act in response to the refugee crisis.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, almost one in three Italians declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was an increase of 13 percentage points from autumn 2014.

  Latvia

Latvia

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR, 183 refugees resided in Latvia in 2014. In 2014, 365 first-time asylum applications were made, a decrease from 185 in 2013 (data from Eurostat). In 2014, the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were Georgia (175), Ukraine (75) and Syria (35).

Government’s approach

On September 17th, the government voted on additional numbers of refugees (526) to be accepted by the country in addition to an earlier declaration. The vote followed a prolonged period of three coalition partners disagreeing on a stance towards refugees.

The foreign affairs minister declared that while solidarity is crucial in EU migration policy, sustainable solutions were needed. Among them is a focus on strengthening external borders, fighting human trafficking and smuggling, effective return policy and integration of refugees.

Latvia, along with other Visegrad Four countries, opposed mandatory refugee quotas, but unlike the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, Latvia voted in favour of the relocation of refugees.

The government wants to construct a fence and use video surveillance at some sections of the Latvian border.

Recently, the country debated a ban on burqas as a response to the proposed legislation of the opposition party, the Latvian Regional Alliance (LRA). The legislation was not passed by the Saeima.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

In April 2015, the social campaign ‘Our people’  was launched as part of the ‘National Integration Centre’ project by the Society Integration Centre with the aim of reducing negative sentiments towards immigrants in Latvia.

Marches against refugee quotas took place, with demonstrators claiming that refugees were economic migrants. One demonstration, which took place in August, was also attended by Estonians and Lithuanians.

On national television, the former Latvian president, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, said it would be embarrassing for Latvia to declare that it is struggling with accepting and integrating refugees in the country, considering the small numbers involved.

Media

Liberal press emphasises that Latvia, also in light of the large scale emigration of its citizens, needs more, not less, migration. In one of its articles, the Latvian daily, Neatkariga Rita Avize, highlighted that migration is crucial for innovation and the competiveness of the country.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, 10 per cent of Latvians declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country.

  Lithuania

Lithuania

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR, 1,007 refugees resided in Lithuania in 2014. In 2014, 385 first-time asylum applications were made, an increase from 250 in 2013. In 2014, the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were Georgia (115), Afghanistan (85) and Ukraine (70).

An interview with a Head of State Border Protection (VSAT), published by a news website Delfi, revealed that contrary to traditional migration routes from east to west, a new refugee route leading from the south towards Scandinavia now emerges.

The government’s approach

The government opposed mandatory quotas, however it voted in favour of the refugee relocation plan.

The government also hinted at an information campaign using media in order provide Lithuanians with knowledge about refugees.

Social Security and Labour Ministry announced plans to open refugee integration centres in three largest cities. The centres will provide language training, legal and psychological counselling, information, advice and other assistance.

Recently the chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas National Security and Defence Committee proposed a ban of burqas in public as these pose a threat to security. The suggestion was criticised by the activists. In a statement the Lithuanian prime minister advised a focus on debate about refugee integration instead.

There were instances of the rejection of refugee relocation at the local level.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Several citizens’ initiatives took place. Marches in solidarity with refugees were organised. Civil society organisations initiated the registration of people willing to host refugees. Some Lithuanian universities offered free study places for refugees.

A social experiment on hate speech was popularised on social media in order to promote a website providing a digital handbook for victims of bullying and hate speech online, and at schools, workplaces, etc.

In response to the debate about burqas, information campaigns were initiated to raise knowledge about refugees, including facts and numbers.

Media

The refugee crisis became the main topic in the media, after tensions with Russia, but some media take a negative stance and raise fears.

Media publish information about refugees to raise knowledge.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, 13 per cent of Lithuanians declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was an increase of 3 percentage points from autumn 2014.

  Malta

Malta

Refugee population

Malta has been a popular transit country on the refugee route from Northern Africa to Europe, but total flows were smaller than those towards Greece or Italy.

According to the UNHCR, 6,095 refugees resided in Malta in 2014. In 2014, 1,275 first-time asylum applications were made, down from 2,205 in 2013 (Eurostat data). In 2014, the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were from Libya (420), Syria (305) and Somalia (130).

The government’s approach

With Italy, Malta called their European counterparts for support to share the responsibility of the refugee crisis. Malta voted in favour of accepting the quota of the EU resettlement scheme. The country also committed to adding financial funds to tackle the refugee crisis.

In mid-2015 the first integration policy was launched in Malta.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Civil society organisations promote initiatives to raise funds, manage donations, collections of goods and work of volunteers. Local parishes agreed to host refugee families. Employers, NGOs, local municipalities and the church have held talks about how to support the refugees that need to be resettled in Malta as a part of the EU scheme.

Vigils expressing solidarity were held after the sinking of ships carrying refugees. One of the largest trade unions in Malta appealed for the integration of refugees in order to sustain the pension system.

Media

Some of the media raised fears with claims that boats were infiltrated with radical Islamists.

Racist social media content is on the rise, with the largest increase in the EU.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, just over three quarters of respondents in Malta declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was an increase of 19 percentage points since autumn 2014.

The design of the National Integration Policy in Malta was preceded by a research of attitudes towards immigrants and immigration, which showed that the majority have contact with foreigners and correctly estimate the share of immigrants in the country. Attitudes seem to depend on the groups of migrants to which they refer.

  Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR, in December 2014 3,137 refugees resided in the Czech Republic. In 2014, the Czech Republic received 905 first-time asylum applications, an increase from 490 in 2013 (data from Eurostat). The top three citizenships of asylum seekers in 2014 were Ukraine (515), Syria (110) and Vietnam (65).

Government’s approach

Initially in January 2015, the Czech government agreed to receive 70 Syrian refugees, and it was against mandatory quotas, in fact voting against it, along with Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

In July the government announced that the information campaign will be prepared in order to respond to the fear of refugees growing in Czech society. The campaign will involve local government and churches. In local communities, where refugees will be relocated, meetings will be held, during which refugees will tell their stories to the local residents.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Demonstrations of anti-immigrant character and in support of immigration took place in Prague over the last months. The newly established association ‘Bloc Against Islam’ prepared an anti-refugee petition, which was signed by over 145,000 Czechs and presented to the Petitions Committee of the Czech Parliament in June 2015.

Czech churches in their statement from 4th July declared solidarity with refugees and active support for refugee reception in the country.

In response to growing xenophobia in the country, Czech academics signed a petition against fear and indifference.

Czech intellectuals, artists and politicians joined others from new EU member countries to sign a solidarity appeal from Central Europe in response to the migrant crisis. Text of the letter is available on Stefan Batory Foundation website.

Support from academia came also from Charles University in Prague, which offered free study and accommodation for refugees.

With the support of the UNHCR in Prague, database regarding refugee assistance was created, which gives information on where volunteers are needed and where different services for refugees are offered. The database is administrated by Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organizations in the Czech Republic.

Media

Tabloids publish racist and xenophobic content, increasing fear of refugees coming to Europe.

Public opinion

In spring 2015 18 per cent of Czechs saw immigration as a major issue facing the country, an increase of 10 per cent since autumn 2014.  Similarly, national public opinion survey pointed to a rise in sense of threat coming from Islamic fundamentalism and the situation in the Middle East. According to another survey from June 2015, over 70 per cent of Czechs were against accepting Syrian and North African refugees.

  Hungary

Hungary

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR, 2,867 refugees resided in Hungary in December 2014. In 2014 there were 41,215 first-time asylum applicants coming from outside the EU, according to Eurostat. The numbers were on the rise since 2013 when 18,565 persons applied. In the first half of 2015, Hungary received over 65,000 first-time asylum applications, the second highest (after Germany) number in Europe.

In 2014 the three top citizenships of asylum applicants were Kosovo (21,455), Afghanistan (8,795) and Syria (6,855).

In 2015 the number of irregular entries increased with refugees coming via the Balkan route from Serbia towards Hungary. However, for many of them Hungary is not the final destination, many continue the journey towards Germany or other European destinations.

The Government’s approach

The government responded to refugee inflows with a wire fence constructed along the 175-kilometre border with Serbia in order to deter new entries. The government also announced fence-building on sections of the border with Croatia and considered fence construction on the border with Romania. In an incident after closing the border with Serbia, Hungarian police used tear gas against immigrants on the Serbian side of the border.

Earlier in 2015, the Fidesz government ran an anti-immigrant campaign, a ‘National Consultation on Immigration’. The campaign consisted of questionnaires and anti-immigrant posters.

In July 2015, the Hungarian parliament passed amendments to the Asylum Act. The UNHCR raised concerns about the amendment, which may lead to denying assistance to asylum-seekers, their deportation and prolonged detention.

The Hungarian government stood in opposition to the quota system voting against it along with other three Member States.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

While Fidesz ran an anti-immigrant campaign, many Hungarians protested against it renaming the consultation ‘National Insult’ and covering campaign’s posters with graffiti (for which activists were arrested). Crowd-fundraising allowed financing a counter-campaign. The governmental campaign was criticised by advocacy organisations and researchers.

Anti-immigrant protests took place in the country as well as demonstration against border fence raising.

Civil society organisations and volunteers were active in supporting refugees arriving in the country. Hungarians collected food, medicines and clothes. At train stations and around towns food and other basic goods were distributed to refugees and medical care was provided.

Hungarian intellectuals, artists and politicians signed solidarity appeal from Central Europe in response to the migrant crisis.

Media

Anti-immigrant views are on the rise. International press reported a case of Hungarian TV journalist who was dismissed as a consequence of tripping up refugees.

Editor of Népszabadság, Hungarian newspaper, signed an open call by European newspaper editors in order to urge the EU to act in the light of the migrant crisis.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, 13 per cent of Hungarians saw immigration as one of the main concerns facing their country, which constituted a 10 per cent increase since autumn 2014.

  Poland

Poland

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR, 15,741 refugees resided in Poland in December 2014. In 2014 5,610 first time asylum applications were made, a decrease from a peak of 13,970 in 2013 (data from Eurostat).

Between 2009 and 2015 the largest number of asylum applications in Poland came from Russian citizens (the majority of them are from Chechenia). Due to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine there was inflow of asylum seekers from Ukraine (2,318 applications in 2014; 1,042 between 1st January and 14th May 2015) and a parallel increase in the numbers of applications for temporary residence from Ukrainian citizens. These numbers were small relative to the population of Poland of over 38 million.

The Government’s approach

Poland along with other Visegrad Group states strongly opposed the quotas of refugee relocation. Despite this Poland voted in favour of the refugee relocation plan. However, in October’s parliamentary elections, the government party is likely to lose to an opposition of Law and Justice, the latter against receiving refugees.

The country favours Christian refugees, for example one private organisation scheme (agreed by the government) welcomed 50 Christian families from Syria in Poland.

In preparation to accept refugees, on 15th September  an inter-governmental Committee on the resettlement and relocation of refugees was established with the aim of coordinating the work of the government in cooperation with non-governmental and religious organisations, churches and local government and designing an integration plan for refugees in Poland.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

As in other countries in Europe, rallies both pro- and against refugees took place in the main Polish cities.

Lech Poznan football fans boycotted Europa League’s game because 1 euro was donated by UEFA to the refugees for each ticket sold. Banner ‘Stop Islamization’ was hung at the stadium entrance.

Intellectuals, artists and politicians signed solidarity appeal from Central Europe in response to the migrant crisis.

Media

Negative attitudes towards immigrants were reflected in some media. Press closer to the political centre makes claims for solidarity. One of the leading newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza blocked the possibility of posting comments on its online articles arguing the step was taken because of hate speech.

Gazeta Wyborcza with other Polish media and under the auspices of the Office for Foreigners, prepared a joint information campaign: ‘More knowledge - less fear - refugees in Poland’. The campaign provided information about refugees in Poland, including their numbers, origin, definitions, etc. The information was distributed with the paper edition of main newspapers and on leading web portals. The information booklet is available in Polish on the Office for Foreigners’ website.

Gazeta Wyborcza was among the signatories of the open call by European newspaper editors urging the EU to act in response to the refugee crisis.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, only 9 per cent of Poles declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was an increase of 2 percentage points from autumn 2014.

  Slovakia

Slovakia

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR, 799 refugees resided in Slovakia in December 2014. In 2014 Slovakia received 230 first-time asylum applications, which was a decrease from previous years (290 in 2013; 550 in 2012, data from Eurostat). In the second quarter of 2015, Slovakia had the lowest rate of first-time asylum applications relative to the population size in Europe. The main citizenship groups applying for asylum in Slovakia in 2014 were Afghanistan (95), Syria (40), Ukraine and Vietnam (25 each).

The Government’s approach

During the summit in Brussels in April 2015, Slovakian Minister of European and Foreign Affairs expressed solidarity with Member States experiencing the refugee inflow. However, the government’s resistance towards refugees is often reported with the Slovakian prime minister, Robert Fico’s words: with the country’s acceptance of only Christian refugees explained with the absence of mosques. The Visegrad Group countries’ prime ministers’ meeting in Prague on 4th September 2015 voiced opposition towards the quota system. The Slovakian government voted against mandatory refugees relocation quotas claiming, after the vote, that the country would not accept them.

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

In June 2015, a protest took place in Bratislava.  A demonstration of a few thousands of Neo-Nazis was against islamisation of Europe, immigrants and the EU. Police had to intervene. At the same time, a demonstration in support of immigrants and against hate took place in Bratislava.

In response to the Visegrad Group meeting at the beginning of September, the president of Slovakia appealed to refrain from hate speech.

Slovakian intellectuals, artists and politicians were among signatories from new EU member countries under solidarity appeal in response to the migrant crisis. The text of the letter is available on the Stefan Batory Foundation website.

Media

Slovakian Denník N was among signatories of the European newspaper editors’ open call to urge European action in response to refugee crisis.

Public opinion

In Slovakia, only 4 per cent of the population reported immigration as a main concern facing the country in spring 2015.

  Slovenia

Slovenia

Refugee population

Slovenia has become part of the Balkan route after Hungary closed its borders with Croatia on 17th October 2015. After the border closed, the flows diverted, with over 200,000 entering the country until mid-November 2015. Refugees coming via Croatia transit through Slovenia continuing their journey towards Northern Europe.According to the UNHCR, 257 refugees resided in Slovenia in 2014. In 2014, 355 first time asylum applications were made, an increase from 240 in 2013 (Eurostat data).In the first half of 2015, the country received one of the smallest number of first-time asylum applications relative to the size of the country’s population.In 2014, the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were from Syria (90), Afghanistan (75) and Pakistan (25). 

The government’s approach

The Slovenian government assisted refugees with temporary accommodation. However, overwhelmed with inflows, the country imposed a limit on entries: 2,500 per day. The country also considered constructing a fence on (parts of) its border with Croatia.The refugee transit centres are over-crowded, leaving some sleeping in the open as the temperatures drop. Slovenia also requested assistance from other EU Member States for its police in order to help with managing inflows. 

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Civil society organisations and volunteers have worked collecting donations and food. They distributed blankets and winter clothes as the temperatures were dropping.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, just one per cent of Slovenians declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country.  
  Spain

Spain

Refugee population

According to the UNHCR, 5,798 refugees resided in Spain in 2014. In 2014, 5,460 first-time asylum applications were made, an increase from 4,285 in 2013 (Eurostat data). In 2014, the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were from Syria (1,510), Ukraine (895) and Mali (595). 

The government’s approach

Unlike Greece or Italy, Spain did not receive substantial inflows with the current migrant crisis. This has been due to the Spanish government’s cooperation with transit countries, like Morocco and Mauritania. The cooperation includes, among others, joint sea patrols and a radar system, which prevent mass arrivals by sea.Initially, the Spanish government opposed the mandatory quota system proposed by the European Commission for relocating migrants and refugees arriving in the frontline Member States, but eventually it changed position and agreed to accept the quota assigned to the country.Compared to France or the UK, racist and discriminatory elements in political speeches were not common in Spain (during municipal elections in May 2015). 

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Volunteers and civil society organisations have been active assisting refugees. They collected donations, provided housing to refugees, offered translation services etc.Spain saw an increase in hate crimes. Islamophobia accounted for 40% of incidents following the terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015. Reports noted a spread of racism, which takes place in public spaces.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, 6 per cent of respondents in Spain declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was an increase of 3 percentage points from autumn 2014.The Center for Sociological Research carried out polls  indicating that just below 8 per cent of the Spanish public is concerned about immigration, which is placed only at the eighth position among issues of concern most often mentioned by the respondents.  
  Sweden

Sweden

Refugee population

Sweden is one of the most popular refugee destinations, with up to 190,000 first-time asylum applications expected to be made in 2015. During the second quarter of 2015, Sweden received the third highest number of first-time asylum applications relative to the size of the country’s population.According to the UNHCR, 142,207 refugees resided in Sweden in 2014. In 2014, 74,980 first-time asylum applications were made, an increase from 54,255 in 2013 (Eurostat data). In 2014, the top three citizenships of asylum applicants were from Syria (30,750), Eritrea (11,530) and stateless (7,820). 

The government’s approach

The government has been welcoming, but local municipalities struggle to provide accommodation for refugees. Financial concerns were raised on the local level, which led the government to substantially increase compensation provided to local municipalities for each settled refugee.Following the large inflow, Sweden is to ask the EU to join the relocation scheme so that up to 54,000 people seeking refuge in Sweden could be relocated to other Member States.There is a broad consensus on immigration among seven out of eight political parties represented in the Swedish parliament. However, the popularity of the anti-immigration party, Sweden Democrats, rose from 5.7 per cent in 2010 to 26.5 per cent in a recent poll. Other parties seem to also hint towards tougher views on immigration. There is a debate related to immigration to Sweden, with policy proposals made by political parties regarding permits, benefits, labour market access etc. 

Refugees in host communities

Civil society

Solidarity marches took place. Swedes make donations of money, clothes, and other necessary items which are sent to asylum processing centres in Sweden and to the Mediterranean. There are numerous initiatives of solidarity. Associations and religious organisations arrange collections of funds and goods. Volunteers offer language lessons as well as sports and social activities.From January to October 2015, there were incidents of fire in 10 refugee centres in Sweden. Police suspects these were arson attacks.

Media

The immigration debate is present in the media. Recently, the Swedish newspapers criticised the annual budget for underestimating funds for immigration and integration in light of increasing number of arrivals.

Public opinion

In spring 2015, 28 per cent of Swedes declared that immigration is one of the main issues facing the country. This was a sharp increase of 4 per cent since autumn 2014.An Ipsos poll showed support for immigration among Swedes, along the concerns about integration of immigrants.  

Non-EU countries

  Egypt

Egypt

Refugee population

As of 5 August 2015 (last available data to date), UNHCR-registered Syrian refugees in Egypt were 132,375. Of these, 524 were unaccompanied minors. The vast majority of refugees from Syria were concentrated in urban neighbourhoods where they rent or share accommodation, primarily in the Greater Cairo area (62 percent), in Alexandria (20 percent) and in Damietta (8 per cent). Their being scattered within local communities makes registration and services delivery a huge challenge, as refugees’ savings progressively deplete and family assistance is strained. As of July 2015, 67,716 beneficiaries (64,878 Syrian and 2,838 Syrian/Palestinian refugees) were recipients of World Food Programme (WFP) food vouchers.

Egypt is also home to 50,000-70,000 Palestinian refugees, who since 1982 are considered as foreigners, hence having lost their right to residency, owning property and work granted to them under Nasser’s Panarabist policies. Some Iraqi refugees have also been stranded in Egypt since 2003. In 2008, their number was estimated at around 17,000. Egypt also received refugees from Sudan, as well as South Sudanese, fleeing the latest internal conflict that began in December 2013. As of 2015, 30,000 Sudanese were registered as refugees and asylum-seekers. However, many Sudanese who may qualify for the status of refugee may remain unrecorded, among the many Sudanese believed to reside and work in Egypt (unverifiable figures usually quoted span from 750,000 to 4 million). Egypt also hosts about 8,000 Somali registered refugees and asylum-seekers, alongside Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees.

Refugee Status

Egypt is a signatory to both the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1969 OAU Convention. The country also ratified the Geneva Convention’s 1967 Protocol, but made reservations to some of its clauses (on personal status, rationing, education, public relief and assistance as well as and labour legislation and social security), which limit the access of some of the refugees to public services. UNHCR undertakes the responsibility to determine the status of refugees and register them, as per the terms of the 1954 MoU between UNHCR and the Government of Egypt. In spite of its formal agreement to UNHCR’s and OAU’s Conventions, Egypt has not developed significant domestic asylum procedures. In 1984, the Egyptian govt. created a Refugee Affairs Committee and a Dept. of Refugee Affairs within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Once the RSD process is concluded and the UNHCR has registered the refugee, he/she applies for a residence permit from the MFA, after the Ministry of Interior provides a security clearance.

Government’s approach

The GoE used to exempt Syrians from entry visas to its territory and Syrians could enter on three-month tourist visas. However, entry requirements changed in July 2013 when the government required the procurement of a visa prior to arrival along with security clearance. Once their visas expire, Syrians are expected to register with the government. In general, the Government is abiding by the non-refoulement principle although some deportations have been reported.

For instance, Palestinians from Syria face specific challenges in Egypt. They can enter if they have Syrian travel documents, but the MFA has not allowed the UNHCR to register them, and they have had difficulty renewing their visas. Consequently, many are being arrested and detained for illegal presence, and even, in some cases, turned away at Cairo airport and sent back to Damascus.

Syrian refugees benefit from access to public health care with the same fees than Egyptian citizens. Public education is also accessible to Syrian refugees on the same basis as Egyptians. However, Palestinian Refugees from Syria are excluded from this provision.

Syrians in Egypt require Egyptian work permits, which are difficult to obtain, as they require proof on the part of the employer that no Egyptian national is available to do the work.

Institutional actors

As of 2015, the refugee response continues to be supervised by UNHCR. Regarding Syrian refugees, an Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG), chaired by the UNHCR has been established, which coordinates the action of a vast number of international and intergovernmental organisations (IOM, ILO; UNDP; UNFPA; UNICEF; UNOPS; UNV; WFP; WHO) and national, regional and international NGOs involved in the provision of logistics, basic needs and relief services, educational, health and psychological, legal, etc. assistance. Among these are (as listed in UNHCR’s documents): the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR); the Arab Council for Supporting Fair Trials and Human Rights (ACSFT); the Arab Medical Union (AMU); Care Intl/USA; Caritas; Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC); Mostafa Mahmoud Society; Refuge Egypt; Refuge Point; Save the Children; St Andrews Refugee Services (StARS); Terre des Hommes - Psycho-Social Services and Training Institute in Cairo (PSTIC).

  Iraq

Iraq

Refugee flow

As of mid-September 2015, Iraq was hosting 248,503 refugees from Syria. Most of these had fled from the governorates of Hassake in North-East Syria (58 percent), Aleppo (25 percent) and Damascus (9 percent). The vast majority of them (97 percent) reside in the three governorates of the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Northern Iraq (KR-I), namely Erbil, Suleimaniah and Duhok. Thirty-eight percent of all Syrian refugees in Iraq are sheltered in 10 camps, a proportion higher than in Jordan and Turkey (around 20 per cent). The largest of these camps (Domiz-1 in the Duhok region) accommodates 41,000 persons. The remaining 62 percent of refugees live in urban areas among local communities. In August 2015, WFP decided to channel all available resources to over 48,000 refugees, but to reduce by almost half the monthly voucher value to all but 2 percent of the assisted refugees, who continue to receive US$19 per person per month to meet their food needs.

Iraq also hosts refugees and asylum-seekers of Palestinian (12,000 are assisted by the UNHCR), Iranian and Turkish origin, in the KR-I but also in Baghdad and other central governorates (of whom 34,000 are assisted by the UNHCR). Yet, a new upsurge of violence in the Anbar region and the fall of the town of Mosul and their neighbouring region to the hands of ISIS mid-2014 spurred massive internal displacements. The Syrian refugees, the Iraqi refugees, having forcibly returned from Syria, and some 1 million IDPs from previous conflicts (of whom 120,000 are assisted by the UNHCR) merged with an estimated 1.2 million people newly displaced due to ISIS advance through the country and to counter-attacks by the Iraqi Armed Forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and various armed groups.

Refugee Status

Iraq is not part of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol. It has, however, passed two laws pertaining to refugees: the 1971 Political Refugee Law that addresses political refugees only, and the Law No. 21 of the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, voted in 2009. The latter expands the definition of a refugee in line with the 1957 Convention. However, the country has no internationally recognised legal framework regarding refugees, and the assistance provided generally lacks consistency in terms of rights and entitlements.

Government’s approach

The government generally cooperates with the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs, and other persons of concern. Since the refugee crisis began in 2012, the KRG has granted residency permits to Syrian refugees that entail freedom of movement within the three Kurdish provinces, right to education free of charge in public schools on par with Iraqi nationals, as well as right to work. Refugees holding a residency permit are also granted free access to health services in the Kurdish region. Those without residency permits find free services in refugee camps. In July 2012, Government of Iraq’s Council of Ministers had decided to open border crossings to Syrian refugees, to establish camps and provide all required services and medical care to the refugees. The Government of Iraq formed a Relief Committee, chaired by the Minister of Migration, as well as support committees to facilitate procurement, camp constructions, and provision of health services.

However, the deterioration in the security situation and armed clashes between the ISF and ISIL over the past years has caused significant movement of civilians, further complicating the government’s coordination and relief efforts. There are no consistent admission criteria and the practice suggests that the admission decisions are based on security considerations rather than respect for the principle of non-refoulement as part of international customary law.

The Kurdistan regional government has significantly curbed movement across the areas it administers for security reasons. Non-residents of the Iraki Kurdistan Region are required to obtain permits that authorized limited stays in the area. These permits are generally renewable. Iraqi citizens who are not from the region, but who seek to obtain residency permits for areas controlled by the Kurdistan regional government required sponsorship from a resident in the region. Citizens (of any ethnicity, including Kurds) crossing into the region from the south are obligated to enter at checkpoints and undergo personal and vehicle inspection.

The impact of the crisis

As the crisis in Syria becomes more protracted, the large influx of refugees places a huge socio-economic burden especially on the resources, infrastructures and services of the northern governorates. This has had a detrimental effect on the living conditions of both those crossing the border and those receiving them. The Syrian crisis has had a particularly negative impact on Iraqi structural vulnerabilities. The influx of refugees has increased intolerably the demand on education facilities, sanitation, housing, and public transport. The arrival of Syrian refugees seems to have had a negative impact on local economies and labour markets, leading to a significant decline in job opportunities. Syrian refugees and IDPs today constitute about 23 per cent of the Kurdistan population. This entails a strain on employment and livelihood opportunities, as well as on services. Increased competition for housing outside the camps drove up costs and led to overcrowding and resorting to substandard accommodations. The increase in the numbers of refugees to KR-I during 2014 also significantly strained the Kurdish Government’s budget. At the same time, also some positive accounts of the influx of Syrian refugees have been reported in Erbil, where host community members describe how the arrival of Syrians has bolstered the labour market by bringing in new skills and capacities (brain-gain).

Refugees in host communities

Host community residents have generally welcomed Syrian refugees, often providing support in the form of food and clothing. In some cases, Syrian refugees are hosted within their houses until alternative accommodation is located. Syrian refugees often mention feeling welcomed and having good relations with their host community. In turn, host community members frequently demonstrate solidarity, speaking of an obligation to provide for the needs of Syrian refugees due to the past hospitality shown to Iraqi refugees in Syria displaced by previous conflicts in Iraq. Arriving Syrian families predominantly choose their final locations according to ethno-religious similarities with the host community. This partly mitigates the difficulties of integration, positively impacting on relations with host communities. The growing demands of those individuals and families crossing the border into Iraq, however, have influenced the relationship between host-communities and refugees. Assessment findings suggest that, in governorates accommodating large Syrian refugee populations, relations between Syrian refugee and host communities are more strained and tend to deteriorate over time. Although relations within assessed communities are generally reported as positive, it must be noted that conditions and perceptions vary from one governorate to another.

Institutional actors

The government generally cooperated with the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations to provide protection and assistance to the more than 2 million refugees, IDPs, asylum seekers, and stateless residents in the country. In the absence of national systems, the UNHCR continues to undertake registration and refugee status determination of asylum-seekers. Since the beginning of the crisis, UNHCR has worked closely with the Government of Iraq (GoI) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to coordinate the humanitarian response with sister UN Agencies and more than sixty organizations. In July 2015, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had reopened its office in Iraq after an absence of some years and based its main hub in Erbil, whilst the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) continues to maintain a coordination role through its Integrated Coordination Office of Humanitarian and Developmental Affairs (ICOHDA). At the beginning of the Anbar crisis the cluster coordination system was established in Baghdad and three clusters were formed. A Strategic Response Plan (SRP) was elaborated by the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) as a planning and fundraising tool to deal with the initial displacements, mostly affecting Central Iraq. Following the massive additional displacements of June, the full cluster response mechanism was established and the SRP updated in September 2014. Linkages between the SRP and the Refugee Response and Resilience Plan (3RP) were assured, particularly for the host community, which is impacted by both displaced communities. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as the Coordinator of the Social Cohesion and Livelihoods Cluster and the UNHCR partner in the 3RP leading on Resilience, will lead in planning and interventions aimed at the impacted community in 2015.

The UNHCR works in collaboration with the following Implementing partners: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/partnerlist.php?Country=103

  Jordan

Jordan

Refugee flow

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, over 600,000 Syrian registered refugees have come to Jordan and live in camps and non-camp settings. As of 17 September 2015, Jordan hosted over 628,887 registered refugees from Syria. Additionally, almost 50,000 Iraqi refugees are also registered in Jordan, a consequence of the recent upsurge in conflicts in Iraq, as well as about 5,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, most of them Sudanese and Somalis. While displacement camps were not established to house the Iraqis, about 20 percent of Syrian refugees are accommodated in five camps, the largest of which – Za’atari Camp – had a population of around 80,000. As of September 2015, most Syrian refugees registered in Jordan came from the regions of Homs (16 percent), and mostly from Deraa (45 percent). In March 2013, refugees from Deraa were 68 percent of all registered refugees, a sign of the expansion of the conflict and displacements since then.

Refugee Status

The Government of Jordan is not a signatory to the 1951 Geneva Convention related to the status of refugees or its 1967 Protocol. The country’s laws do not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government lacked a formal system of providing protection to refugees. However, a 1998 memorandum of understanding between the government and the UNHCR, partially amended in April 2014, contains the definition of a refugee, confirms adherence to the principle of non-refoulement and third country resettlement for refugees, and allows recognized refugees a maximum stay of one year, during which period UNHCR must find a durable solution. The time limit is renewable, and, generally, the government has not forced Syrian or Iraqi refugees to return to their country of origin. However, the international community has reported cases of refoulement. Refugees’ mobility is somehow constrained: departure from the camps may happen through a legal system of sponsorship by Jordanians, as well as through GoJ-organized return to Syria, even if some refugees simply moved out of the camps. Syrian and Iraqi registered refugees have no access to the formal labour market, which would require them to forego their protected refugee status. Many thus work or run businesses illegally to provide for their livelihoods. A limited number of Iraqi and Syrian refugees received approval for work permits from the Ministry of Labour; however, the government requires foreign residents, including refugees, to obtain residency permits from the Ministry of Interior before obtaining a work permit, effectively restricting issuance of work permits issued to refugees. Refugees are eligible to receive free primary health care in Jordan’s public healthcare facilities and Syrian refugee children have formal access to public education within refugee camps or outside, yet many factors (lack of available places, costs of fees, transportation, discrimination, etc) hamper many refugee children’s enrolment.

The impact of the crisis

The presence of so many refugees was a huge economic strain and placed a burden on Jordan’s resources, including water, education and health care. The large influx of refugees over almost five years has had a serious impact on what were already meagre national resources. The Syrian crisis has had a particularly negative impact on Jordanian structural vulnerabilities. The influx of refugees has increased intolerably the demand on school, sanitation, housing, food, energy and water. In particular, the arrival of Syrian refugees seems to have had a negative impact on Jordan’s housing sector. Rent prices have tripled or even quadrupled in border zones and other areas of high refugee density. As the majority of Syrians do not live in camps, this rise can be explained by the sharp increase in demand for housing and by refugees’ capacity to afford higher prices by sharing housing with others to bring down costs. It should be noted, however, that while rents continue to increase for both Jordanians and Syrians, the former tend to pay higher sums than Jordanian households. Furthermore, as of September, 229,000 of 440,000 urban refugees, who had been receiving some food aid from the World Food Programme, lost their benefits, which might further strain national charities and infrastructure. Those living in the camps continued to receive food vouchers. The Jordanian Government also laments that the 600,000 registered refugees are only a part of a bigger Syrian presence (Jordanians say 1.4 but not verifiable before census), of whom some were residing in Jordan before the war.

Refugees in host communities

A feeling of insecurity increased due to the potential for the conflict to spread into Jordan. This has also exacerbated the relationship between refugees and the host communities. Jordanians often perceive Syrians as competitors for jobs. This has sparked protests and tensions between refugees and host communities. The protracted nature of the Syrian crisis and its negative, real or perceived, impact on the living conditions of Jordanians has meant that Jordanians, who, at first, welcomed refugees, have become hostile. The belief that refugees are thriving on scarce local resources is widespread amongst an increasingly resentful host community.

Government’s approach

While in principle maintaining an open-border policy to refugees from Syria, the authorities closed the border to Syrian refugees on a number of occasions and prevented the entry into Jordan of Palestinians and Iraqis fleeing the Syrian conflict. The UNHCR reported that, since 2014, the government also prevented some Syrians seeking refuge from entering the country, and forcibly returned Syrian refugees, including women, children, war-wounded, and disabled persons to Syria. All this seems to replicate a scenario already seen with Palestinian refugees from Syria. Prior to April 2012, Palestinian refugees from Syria could enter the country following the same procedures applied to any other Syrian refugees. However, after that date, Jordan adopted a no-entry policy that has prevented refugees from crossing into Jordan and that has subjected those in the Kingdom to the risk of refoulement to Syria. The increasing border restrictions may be explained by the fact that the influx of Syrians has strained Jordan’s already overburdened infrastructure and the Kingdom’s limited resources. Jordan’s participation in the United States-led military campaign against the Islamic State and Jabhat Al-Nusra in Syria and Iraq is another likely cause behind the tightening of borders. The government closely managed its borders with Syria and Iraq and required Iraqis to have visas before entering the country. As a matter of fact, the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) concur that almost no arrivals of Syrian refugees have been recorded over the past months – with the exception of a limited number of women, children, and civilians with urgent medical needs.

Institutional actors

The response to the Syrian refugee crisis is led by Government of Jordan and coordinated by UNHCR. It also involves a myriad of donors, UN agencies, international and national NGOs, community-based organizations. First line Jordanian government agencies include the Jordanian Armed Forces, the Public Security Directorate, the Ministry of Interior, which comprises the Syrian Refugee Affairs Department and the Syrian Refugee Camp Directorate; the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, which includes a Humanitarian Relief Coordination Unit. Other ministries (the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, Education, Health, Social Development, Labour, etc) are also involved. Besides UNHCR, other UN agencies perform specific protection, logistics and advocacy tasks, inside and outside camps: FAO, ILO, IOM, UN Women, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, UNICEF, UNOPS, WFP, WHO, UNRWA, for instance. Among the many Jordanian NGOs are the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development, Jordan River Foundation, Noor Al-Hussein Foundation, Caritas Jordan, Save the Children Jordan, the Islamic Relief.Foreign and international NGOs include: Agence d'aide à la coopération technique et au développement, Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development-Legal Aid, CARE International USA, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, International Relief and Development, Japan Emergency NGOs, Norwegian Refugee Council, Mercy Corps, Action Against Hunger, Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, ActionAid, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Association of Volunteers in International Service, CARE, Caritas Jordan, Global Communities, Center for Victims of Torture, Danish Refugee Council, Finn Church Aid, Fundación Promoción Social de la Cultura, Croix-Rouge française, Handicap International, International Catholic Migration Commission, International Medical Corps, Internews, INTERSOS, Islamic Relief, International Rescue Committee, International Relief and Development, Japan Emergency NGOs, Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, Jordan Health Aid Society, KnK Japan, Lutheran World Federation, Muslim Aid, Madrasati Initiative, Médecins du Monde, Medair, Mercy Corps, El Movimiento por la Paz, Nippon International Cooperation for Community Development, Norwegian Refugee Council, Operation Mercy, Oxfam, Première Urgence - Aide Médicale Internationale, Questscope, Relief International, Royal Health Awareness Society, Save the Children Jordan, Save the Children International, Syria Relief and Development, Al Taghyeer, Terre des Hommes Lausanne, Terre des Hommes Italy, Triangle GH, Un Ponte Per, War Child UK, World Vision International 

UNHCR’s funding appeal for Jordan amounts to $1,191,392,175 for 2015. As of September 2015, only 39% of its funding requirements are covered ($466,434,221).

  Lebanon

Lebanon

Refugee flow

Since the beginning of the recent crises in the Middle East, over 1.100,000 registered refugees have come to Lebanon; who almost exclusively hail from Syria. As of 6 May 2015, UNHCR Lebanon has temporarily suspended new registration of Syrian refugees as per the Government of Lebanon's instructions. Since then, the numbers of registered Syrian refugees have been slightly decreasing.

Refugee Status

The Government of Lebanon is not a signatory to the 1951 Geneva Convention related to the status of refugees or its 1967 Protocol. Lebanon implements some provisions of the Convention on a voluntary basis and considers that granting the refugee status to individuals lies within its margin of discretion. Yet the government of Lebanon stresses that Lebanon is not a country of Asylum, a final destination of refugees, or a country of resettlement. Accordingly, it generally refers to individuals that fled from Syria since 2011 as ‘displaced’, as  ‘persons registered as refugees by UNHCR’ or as ‘de facto refugees’.

Since late January 2015, residence renewal procedures for registered refugees have been changed and various financial and bureaucratic obstacles have been introduced, which make residence renewal a very difficult quest. As a result, there is a grave risk that most refugees will gradually lose their legal status in the country, and the number of Syrians without valid residence papers has increased. Although Syrians with expired or without legal stats are legally required to leave the country, the GoL has not enforced the deportation of Syrian refugees to date. Nevertheless, refoulement due to rejection at the border is a significant concern.

In socio-economic terms, the 2015 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (VASyR) has highlighted an increase in vulnerabilities compared to 2014. Syrian refugee households show stronger degrees of dependency on external livelihood sources like food vouchers, loans and credits. In addition, the percentage of households below the poverty line (3.84$/person/day) has increased from 50% to 70%. However, funding shortfalls have led to a drastic and continuing reduction in humanitarian cash- and in-kind assistance since the end of 2013, which is now estimated to only cover 5-10% of registered refugees. Most recently, the World Food Programme (WFP) cut the value of its food aid by 50% in July 2015, now providing only US$13.50 per person per month.

Government’s approach

After years of an unstable government and the absence of any sustainable government response, the Lebanese government formed a Crisis Cell to deal with the Syrian crisis in mid-2014. In Oct 2014, the government issued a policy paper, which sets three priorities for managing the displacement crisis: 1) reducing the number of refugees, 2) providing more security, and 3) reducing the economic burden for Lebanon, e.g. by preventing Syrians from working unlawfully, and by directing more crisis-related funding to Lebanese institutions, communities, and infrastructure.

In December 2014, the Ministry of Labour listed professions confined to Lebanese citizens, but excluded agriculture, cleaning and construction (3 sectors in which many Syrians work) from it. It also introduced a new requirement for sponsorship for Syrian workers.

The impact of the crisis

The presence of so many refugees has been a huge economic strain on Lebanon’s resources. Increased combat activities in Syria have also negatively impacted on the security situation in Lebanon, which a recent UNHCR report describes as “tense, volatile and highly unpredictable”, especially in the Northern and North-Eastern parts of the country.

Employment: Despite the official restrictions on working, many refugees work informally. Lebanese often perceive Syrians as competitors for jobs.

Housing: While there are no officials refugee camps, many refugees live in informal tented settlements, as well as in (often substandard and overcrowded) urban apartments and shelters. With less available income, more and more refugees move into very substandard shelter (e.g. unfinished buildings).

Refugees in host communities

The protracted nature of the Syrian crisis and its negative, real or perceived, impact on the living conditions of Lebanese, who, at first, welcomed refugees, has changed the stance of many among the Lebanese host community. Syrian refugees are scapegoated for a variety of issues that have, in fact, characterised Lebanon for many years, such as dysfunctional infrastructure or economic hardship. The belief that Syrians constitute a security threat is also constantly reiterated by Lebanese politicians and media. Real or imagined, this public and media discourse has led to increased attack on Syrians in Lebanon.  In a recent survey (June 2015), 43% of Syrian refugees reported incidents with authorities or civilians: Raids and searches, harassment, insults, detention, beating, and extortion.

Media sources:

Attacks on Syrians in Lebanon: Scapegoating, par excellence: http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/21557

Survey on Perceptions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, August 2015: http://www.sciences-po.usj.edu.lb/pdf/Executive%20Summary.pdf

Institutional actors:

Since the Regional Refugee and Resilience Response Plan issued in Dec 2014, the Lebanese government formally takes the lead in the crisis response. Overall, governmental responsibility remains with the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The UNHCR is the leading organisation that works in cooperation with the Lebanese government Crisis Cell, other UN agencies and NGOs in providing support for the refugees.

UNHCR works in collaboration with the following Implementing partners:

Government agencies: Ministry of Social Affairs

NGOs: Action Against Hunger, Agence d'aide à la coopération technique et au développement, Al Majmoua, Amel Association, AJEM, Caritas Migrant Centre, Cooperative Housing Foundation, Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli, Concern, Global Communities, Cooperazione Internationale, Danish Refugee Council, Dar El Fatwa, International Alert, International Medical Corps, International Orthodox Christian Charities, International Relief and Development, International Rescue Committee, INTERSOS, Islamic Relief, Makhzoumi Foundation, Medair, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Polish Center for International Aid, Première Urgence - Aide Médicale Internationale, RESTART, Right To Play, Save the Children International, Search for Common Ground, SHIELD, Solidar, Terre des Hommes, War Child Holland, World Vision International

Others: UNDP, UN-HABITAT, UNOPS, WHO

Its operating partners are:

Government agencies: High Relief Commission, Parliament's Human Rights Committee, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Ministry of the Interior and Municipalities, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Health

NGOs: ActionAid Denmark, ALPHA, Associazione Volontari per il Servizio Internazionale, Center for Victims of Torture, Fundación Promocíon Social de la Cultura, GVC/Muslim Aid, Handicap International, Heartland Alliance International, Lebanese Red Cross, Makassed, Médecins du Monde, Refugee Education Trust, Relief International, René Moawad Foundation, Safadi Foundation, Terre des Hommes Lausanne, World Rehabilitation Fund, YMCA

Others: FAO, ICRC, IFRC, ILO, IOM, Lebanese Red Cross, OCHA, OHCHR, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF,UNODC, UNRWA, UNSCOL, UNWOMEN, WFP

UNHCR’s funding appeal for Lebanon amounts to $1,973,915,014 for 2015. As of Sept 22, 2015, only 35% of its funding requirements are covered.

  Serbia

Serbia

Refugee population

Serbia is one of the transit countries for refugees heading to the EU. Recently the number of arrivals increased dramatically. It reached 2,500-3,000 persons per day putting severe pressure on the existing reception capacities of the country. According to official Serbian sources of information, during the first eight months of 2015 more than 100,000 registered as asylum seekers in the country. The large majority of the recent flow of refugees are Syrians (67%), Iraqis (15%) and Afghans (7%). The real figures are much higher as the reported numbers of registered constitutes approximately half of the total number of people transiting through the country. People arrive exhausted and in need of food, water, medical services and shelter. They frequently have to stay out in the open without minimal food and sanitation conditions.

Refugee Status

Serbia is a signatory to both the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The country also ratified the Geneva Convention’s 1967 Protocol.

As of 31 August, 37,195 people expressed the intention to seek asylum, which brings the total number of applications from the beginning of 2015 to 104,915.

On 9 September 2015, the European Commission issued a proposal for an EU regulation establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin and amending the Directive 2013/32/EU. The proposal includes also Serbia.

Government’s approach

The Government of Serbia attempts to improve the reception facilities. There are three new assistance centres established close to the border with FYROM on the way to Preševo (Tabanovce TS Refugee Aid Point, Preševo One Stop Centre and Miratovac Refugee Aid Point) and another one in Kanjiža (Staro Vašarište Refugee Aid Point). It works in close collaboration with the UNHCR to provide the necessary assistance to refugees. However, the increasing number of arrivals requires further efforts. The Serbian government has asked for international support in the area of reception, asylum and migration management. Taking into account the urgent need to create shelters for refugees, the European Union will grant €3.2 million to the Serbian government to build reception centres. Also, the EU Delegation in Serbia, in addition to the €240,000 already invested, will provide €400,000, to improve the conditions in temporary accommodation centres in Belgrade and Presevo.

Institutional actors

The Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Mixed Migration Flows was established by the Government to coordinate the actions in response to the refugee crisis. The UNHCR is the leading international organization providing aid and assistance. It actively collaborates with local state bodies such as the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. The Serbian Government supported by the UNHCR has established centres to facilitate the registration and access to humanitarian and medical assistance to refugees with specific needs. Thanks to the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, the refugees with specific needs are able to receive legal assistance and guidance through the asylum procedures in Belgrade. Under the joint initiative the municipality of Belgrade, the UNHCR and its partners, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and the BCHR, an Asylum Info Centre was established.

Besides the mentioned UNHCR institutions, partners include the UN Country Team, Amity, the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), CRS, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Humanitarian Centre for Integration, MSF and Tolerance (HCIT), Indigo, INTERSOS, Microfins, Praxis, Sigma Plus and Vizija

  The Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia

The Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia

Refugee population

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is one of the transit countries for refugees heading to the EU. Recently the number of arrivals increased dramatically and reached 4,000-5,000 people per day, putting severe pressure on the existing receiving capacities of the country. According to information provided by the Red Cross Society in Macedonia, during July and August 2015 alone over 62,500 refugees passed through the country. According to UNICEF, more than 64,000 people have been registered at the reception centre in Gevgelija on the border with Greece. The large majority of refugees are Syrians (81%), Afghans (5%), Iraqis (5%) and Pakistanis (3%). Other asylum seekers come from Somalia, Palestine, Congo and Cameroon. Though the reported number of registered refugees varies across different sources of information, the real figures are much higher; the number of registered constitutes approximately half of the total number of people transiting through the country.

Refugee Status

The FYROM had signed and ratified the 1951 and 1959 Geneva Convention, and it had acceded to the 1967 Protocol. Thanks to the recent asylum law amendment on 18 June, 2015 the refugees had the opportunity to apply for asylum at the border of FYROM, receiving a document authorizing them to travel legally to Skopje and have their asylum claims registered within 72 hours. As a result 53,571 people have registered their intention to seek asylum in the country during the period from 19 June to 1 September. Another 10,000 were registered during the first week of September 2015.

On 9 September 2015, the European Commission issued a proposal for an EU regulation establishing an EU common list of safe countries of origin and amending the Directive 2013/32/EU. The proposal also includes the FYROM.

Government’s approach

The FYROM Ministry of the Interior puts efforts to improve the reception conditions. Despite enhancing its registration system, the growing number of refugees arriving from Greece makes these measures still insufficient to meet the needs. With the financial support of the UNHCR 12 new data entry clerks from the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association are involved in the reception process. On 19 August the Government of the FYROM closed its border due to the increasing number of arrivals. Several thousand individuals had to wait on the Greek side for 3 days until the border was reopened on 22 August. People arrive exhausted and in need of food, water, medical services and shelter. They frequently have to stay outside without minimal food and sanitation conditions. The situation is due to worsening weather conditions. As the Macedonian government have not established any temporary accommodation centre in the border area, many refugees had to sleep in the open under the rain.

The Government has asked for international support in the area of reception, asylum and migration management.

Institutional actors

The Crisis Management Team was established by the Government to coordinate the actions in response to the refugee crisis. Its initial mandate has a duration of 30 days with the possibility of extension depending on the situation. The Crisis Management team is in charge of coordinating the refugee crisis response of the state bodies such as the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

There are several other organizations working with state bodies: Help the Migrants in Macedonia, HERA, IOM, La Strada Open Gate, Legis, MYLA, Nun, Red Cross, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, and WHO.

The UNHCR is the main institution that funds and coordinates the humanitarian actions in the region. In FYROM it works in close collaboration with the Red Cross to distribute food, water and blankets as well as maintain the health and hygiene to those waiting at the border. Together with several partners and NGOs (such as the Nun, Legis and Help the Migrants) as well with the support of individuals it provides daily food packages and other items to the refugees.

The UNHCR and its partners such as the Macedonian Young Lawyers Association offer free, legal consultation and assistance in

  Turkey

Turkey

Refugee population

According to information provided by UNHCR, since the beginning of the recent Middle East crises, Turkey hosted over 2 million refugees from different conflict-affected countries. The majority of refugees and asylum seekers are Syrians who fled the war and arrived at the bordering provinces of Turkey. The majority of non-Syrian refugees are from Iraq. Half of the Syrian refugees are children. With the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, the estimated number of Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers in Turkey is expected to exceed 100,000 by the end of 2015. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are in camps established along the border with Syria. However, the majority (85%) are scattered through Turkish provinces far from border provinces trying to survive in urban communities around Istanbul, Izmir and Canakkale and other cities. Many of them risk their lives in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Greece hoping to find safe harbour and better future in Europe.

Refugee Status

According to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, Turkey maintains the geographical limitation. This implies that the country grants refugees of European origin the right to seek asylum while non-European refugees are eligible only for temporary asylum seeker status under the 1994 Asylum Regulation. Hence, Turkey is considered a transit and temporary asylum area for migrants arriving from countries outside of Europe. Still, the law provides protection and assistance for asylum-seekers and refugees, regardless of their country of origin.

The recent Law on Foreigners and International Protection (April 2013) brings the Turkish legislation closer to European standards. It is not limited to “Turkish descents and culture” and emphasises the importance of treating irregular migrants and asylum seekers in line with international norms.

The Law of Work Permits of foreigners (Law No.4817), though reflects the governments welcoming attitude towards migrant workers, it does not contain any provision for asylum seekers, temporary protection beneficiaries and recognised refugees. As a consequence the refugees can only access work illegally.

Government’s approach

The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority and the newly-established Directorate General of Migration Management are the state bodies dealing with the emergency response to Syrian refugees. The government officially continues its open-door policy. It has spent nearly €5 billion since the beginning of the crisis and is providing assistance in 25 camps at a monthly cost of €2 million. However, as the number of refugees is growing, the authorities started to apply alternative approaches. For example, the state supports the NGOs that provide assistance to the IDP camps on the Syrian territory. Also, border-controlling authorities started to introduce stricter control procedures to restrict the flows.

The impact of the crisis

The presence of refugees in five provinces (Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Mardin) potentially alters the ethnic balance in the region. For example, in Kilis where before the inflow of refugees Arab population was less than 1 percent, it is currently the majority. The inflow of Syrians also changes the sectarian (Sunni-Alawite) composition in the provinces. So, Alawites used to dominate the Arab population of Hatay and the inflow of Sunni Arab refugees is shifting the balance creating tensions.

The war in Syria and the inflow of refugees also has economic consequences. The countries had developed deep trade ties before the crisis started. Initially, the war in Syria led to the collapse of relations in 2012 and the sharp decrease of Turkish export to Syria. However, later Turkey seems to have recovered and even increased its export trade with Syria as the destruction of production facilities in Syria increased the demand for Turkish products. Still, the increased refugee flows might potentially push up the cost of living and unemployment in southern Turkey.

Refugees in host communities

The Government continues to maintain Ankara’s open-door policy for Syrian refugees and to allocate state resources to support refugees. Although the refugees are provided with food and shelter in official camps mostly allocated near the border with Syria, the majority of Syrians are spread through the country, moving from a city to another, searching for work or simply begging on the streets.  This creates popular discontent among ordinary Turks who believe that state resources should be rather spent to resolve the poverty issues of Turkish people. There are more and more demonstrations against the refugees as well as attacks on them across the country. People believe that the officially reported number of Syrians in Turkey is much lower than the real figures as the majority of them are not registered. The refugees are blamed for lowering wages and causing an increase in rents in poor neighbourhoods through increased demand for housing.

Institutional actors

The UNHCR is the leading organisation that works in close cooperation with the Turkish government (the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority and the Directorate-General of Migration Management) and NGOs in organizing the support for refugees.

Due to the influx of refugees from neighbouring countries, the operational budget of the UNHCR in Turkey has increased from $17.7 million in 2010 to $320.16 million in 2015. The UNHCR has supported Turkey through the provision of core relief items, field monitoring and technical advice. The Government of Turkey provides assistance in 25 camps at a monthly cost of €2 million and has spent nearly €5 billion for other cost (health, education, food security and social and other technical services offered) since the beginning of the crisis.

Additional

UNHCR works in collaboration with:

Implementing partners (NGOs such as Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants, Human Resource Development Foundation, International Medical Corps, International Blue Crescent, Support to Life),

Operating partners (Government agencies: Coast Guard Command, Disaster and Emergency Management Authority of Turkey, Gendarmerie General Command, Ministry of Family and Social Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of National Education, Ministry of the Interior (Directorate-General of Migration Management and for Security), National Human Rights Institution, Ombudsman's Office, Presidency of Religious Affairs, Secretariat General For EU Affairs, Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency; and NGOs: Amnesty International, Ankara Refugee Lunch Support Group, Association for Solidarity with Refugees (Multeci-Der), Bar Associations, Caritas, Danish Refugee Council, Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, Human Rights Association, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, International Catholic Migration Commission, International Medical Corps, Peace Research Institute in the Middle East, International Rescue Committee, JRS / KADER, KAMER, KAOS Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association, Kimse Yok Mu, Relief International, the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People (Mazlum-der), Education Volunteers Foundation of Turkey, Welthungerhilfe)

Others: IOM, UN Country Team, Universities

Regional

  • A Note on Syrian Refugees in the Gulf: Attempting to Assess Data and Policies
  • A Note on Syrian Refugees in the Gulf: Attempting to Assess Data and Policies

    As the migrant crisis escalates at Europe’s borders, the Gulf States have been blamed for having offered “zero resettlement” to Syrian refugees. In response to these statements, some Gulf States claim that they have actually relaxed their entry and residency laws to accommodate sizeable numbers of Syrian nationals since the start of the conflict. The paper assesses these claims using statistics available from these countries, as well as declarations from official bodies released in the local press. It appears that, besides being major aid donors to Arab countries sheltering Syrian refugees, most Gulf States have passed various measures destined to facilitate the entry and stay of Syrians since 2011. Read the full publication here.

Annual numbers of migrants smuggled at sea and land by route, 1999-2016 (Jan-Apr)

Source: Italian Ministry of Interior; FRONTEXWATCH Malta (2010-2014) and UNHCR, http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php (2015) for the Central Mediterranean route; Hellenic Police, Ministry of Public Order & Citizen Protection for the Eastern Mediterranean route; Spanish Ministry of Interior (2010-2014), UNHCR, http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/regional.php (2015-2016) for the Western Mediterranean route.


Database

To access data please click on the categories below. Focus on Syrians
Immigration concern nº1 (%)
  • 16 - 23
  • 24 - 31
  • 34 - 38
  • 39 - 48
  • 49 - 65

Immigration has become the first concern of EU citizens, Eurobarometer reveals.

In spring 2013, the main issue facing the EU was the economic situation, as highlighted by respondents in 21 Member States. Unemployment and the state of public finances in the Member States were other important concerns. On average one in ten Europeans pointed to immigration as an issue facing the EU, but this picture differed by country. In Bulgaria one in five respondents expressed concerns about immigration. Other countries where concerns were above European average were Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech, Estonia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania and the UK.

In spring 2014 these concerns were on the rise. The largest increase, of 39 per cent, took place in Malta. In Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Hungary the increase ranged between 12 and 19 per cent.

In spring 2015 immigration became the main concern of Europeans, ahead of the economic situation and unemployment. The majority of respondents in Malta, Germany and Estonia reported immigration as the most important issue facing the EU. It was also mentioned by one out of two Danes.