Refugees returning to ‘tried and tested’ North African route

North African immigrants approach Lampedusa. [Extremismalert]

Compared to 2015, the number of refugees who tried to enter the European Union last year decreased significantly. Aktuálně reports.

However, refugees are trying again in 2017, as evidenced by the hundreds detained since 1 January by Italian and Spanish naval vessels.

Immigration will be one of the main challenges that the Union will face this year.

One of the reasons is the fact that Turkey is threatening to terminate the treaty agreed with the EU last March, after which the number of migrants who flooded into Europe across the Aegean Sea began to rapidly reduce.

Migrant returns start Sunday, after EU and Turkey strike refugee swap deal

All migrants and refugees arriving in Greece from this Sunday (20 March) will be returned to Turkey, under a controversial agreement hammered out over two days between the EU and Ankara at a summit in Brussels.

In previous years, a number of member states recorded a surge in anti-refugee sentiment. Last year, therefore, many of their governments started talking about measures to limit the influx of refugees.

Germany began to limit its migrant intake last year, when the number of refugees seeking refuge in the country also significantly decreased. While in 2015 it accepted 890,000, last year it was only 280,000.

On the other hand, there was an increase in the number of asylum applications. In 2016, 745,545 refugees, requested asylum, which is almost 270,000 more than the year before.

“We are able to regulate the migration process,” said Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière with satisfaction.

According to the government, the increase in the number of asylum seekers is a consequence of the fact that most of them had arrived in Germany in 2015, but due to the large number of applicants, each takes several months to process.

The refugees come mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, as well as Albania.

Germany wants migrants sent back to Greece and Turkey

Germany called yesterday (2 October) for asylum seekers who entered the European Union via Greece to be forced to return there, while also urging Athens to send more migrants back to Turkey.

Austrians want a ceiling

Strict anti-refugee measures have also been demanded by Austria, which has felt overwhelmed by the number of migrants crossing its territory to Germany over the past two years.

In January, Social Democrat Defence Minister Hans-Peter Doskozil and People’s Party Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka called on the EU to have refugees submit their applications for asylum outside the territory of the 28 member states.

“The unsuccessful asylum policy in Europe needs to be terminated,” stressed Doskozil. “We must honestly admit that the EU has a limited capacity to accept refugees. We need to stop illegal migration.”

Austria, which last year accepted 80,000 refugees, will next call for a cap on the number of refugees that are accepted.

On 1 January, migrants sexually harassed two dozen women in Innsbruck.

Austria and Balkan states prepare for collapse of EU-Turkey deal

Austria said on Monday (7 November) it will meet with its Balkan neighbours to discuss what action they might take if a deal with Turkey aimed at restricting the flow of illegal migrants into the European Union collapses.

The North African route

Last year, in cooperation with Greece and Turkey, the EU managed to stop the influx of refugees who were trying to enter Europe across the Aegean Sea.

Refugees responded by returning to the “tried and tested” route to the EU from North Africa. This is confirmed by the large increase in the number of refugees accepted in 2016 by Spain and France.

According to figures published in January by the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR), in 2015 a total of 153,842 migrants tried to enter Europe through Italy and 4,408 through Spain. Last year, it was 173,008 and 6,826 refugees, respectively.

According to the UNHCR, the number of migrants who drowned or went missing after trying to cross the Mediterranean also increased significantly last year.

While in 2015, Italy recorded 2,913 such cases, in 2016, was 4,527 went missing en route. On the contrary, the number of dead and missing migrants in the Aegean Sea decreased. Two years ago it was 799 people, last year 441.

EU leaders approve plan to curb migration from Libya, Africa

EU leaders rubber stamped a plan to curb migration from Libya at an informal summit in Malta today (3 February), offering Tripoli €200 million to better control its borders.

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