The number of refugees arriving in Greece is up over 40% on last year. There are now at least 100,000 – double the number when we started working there in April 2016. And it is not clear where they all are. Analyst Rory O’Keeffe of Koraki has collated the latest numbers from official sources and estimates that 18,000 refugees are not accounted for.
So far this year, a total of 25,635 people have arrived in Greece’s Aegean islands by sea compared to 21,494 in the same period last year:
All mainland camps have increased in size this year as people have been transferred from the islands. We have seen a doubling of capacity at Katsikas from 500 to 1,100 but there is still severe overcrowding on the islands.
The policy of holding people on the islands ostensibly to process them before transferring to the mainland has been a failure. It also seems clear that the overcrowded, inhumane and degrading living condition are deliberately intended to act as a deterrent to other arrivals. That, as we can see, does not work and only serves to pile more stress and misery onto people who have already suffered too much.
This year has also seen a huge 70% increase in the number making the journey overland through northern Turkey and across the river Evros. So far this year it is about 15,000 and will be many more than that because not all will have declared themselves to the state.
This alarming increase in numbers and the clear inability of Greece to provide the most basic protections is particularly worrying as winter starts.
But there are also questions about where all the people are. The official numbers are 85,000 but this is 18,000 short of the number who should be in Greece when looking at the numbers of arrivals, removals and relocations.
As Rory concludes in his article “No-one in Europe can pretend that this is acceptable.”