New Displacement Figures: Concern in Balkans

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The latest edition of IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix report, which compiles data from national authorities and IOM, indicates that in the first quarter of 2018 a total of 18,956 individuals reached Europe. This is about half the number of people registered within the same period in 2017 (34,531) and reflects a large decline in arrivals in Italy.

Italian authorities have registered 6,296 new arrivals, down from the 24,292 registered in the same period in 2017. Similar declines have been observed in Bulgaria, Spain and Cyprus.

In contrast to the decrease in the overall number of arrivals across the Mediterranean, local authorities have observed an increase in movement across the transit countries of Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. More than 2,400 irregular migrants have been registered at the end of March 2018, representing a five-fold increase compared to the same period in 2017 (461).

Ivona Zakoska, DTM officer at RO Vienna, commented “we are seeing something of a mini-crisis in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia, where number are steeply up as trapped migrants try to find new ways to reach EU countries. Numbers are down overall, but with the calm seas and improved weather we would expect to see more people risking the sea crossings or mountain tracks”.

Greek authorities observed a significant increasing trend in arrivals, by 67 per cent, up from 4,407 in 2017 to 7,343 in 2018. The number of land arrivals is pronounced, as it reached 2,145 at the end of March 2018, the highest figure reported in the past four years. The majority (62 per cent) of them reached Greece by land from Turkey – a total of 1,327, an increase on the months of January (393) and February (425) 2018.

Since November 2017, IOM has assisted more than 10,000 migrants to return home safely from Libya, reducing their likelihood of boarding a vessel across the Mediterranean.

According to the latest available figures from the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) there are currently over 3.9 million foreign nationals present on Turkish territory seeking international protection, the majority of whom are Syrians (3,567,130 individuals) who are granted temporary protection status. This represents an increase of 779,708 in comparison to March 2017 when estimated 3.2 million foreign nationals were registered as present in Turkey.

The full report is available here.