Persecution, conflicts and human rights violations continue to force people to flee their homes and seek safety in Europe. They risk their lives and face a treacherous journey.
An estimated 362,000 refugees and migrants risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2016, with 181,400 people arriving in Italy and 173,450 in Greece. Migrants crossing the Mediterranean were 1,015,078 in 2015 and 216,054 in 2014 with death toll of 5096 in 2016, 3771 in 2015 and 3538 in 2014.
In the first half of 2017, over 105,000 refugees and migrants entered Europe. This movement towards Europe continues to take a devastating toll on human life. Since the beginning of 2017, over 2,700
people are believed to have died or gone missing while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, with reports of many others perishing en route. These risks do not end once in Europe. Those moving onwards irregularly have reported numerous types of abuse, including being pushed back across borders.
The EU Commission has proposed a new two-year programme to bring at least 50,000 asylum seekers into Europe.”It is about managing one of the most complex, structural phenomena of our times, not a temporary emergency,” said the
Commission’s Vice-President Federica Mogherini.The issue has soured relations in the 28-country European Union.A two-year programme which just finished, relocated less than a fifth of a planned 160,000 asylum seekers.Nevertheless, Ms Mogherini insists EU migration policy is “starting to deliver”.The resettlement scheme which is coming to an end was an attempt to manage the surge of some 1.7 million migrants who have
arrived on European shores since 2014.The scheme suspended European rules which say would-be refugees should apply for asylum in the country of entry to the EU – which had put the main burden of managing the crisis on frontline countries such as Italy and Greece.EU officials say the failure of the scheme to resettle the envisaged number of people is partly because a 2016 deal with Turkey and EU measures to curb migration from Libya led to a dramatic drop in the number of arrivals, and because many of the more recent arrivals come from countries which do not qualify for the relocation programme.
The Commission’s proposals for a new two-year scheme would bring 50,000 vulnerable people to Europe – from the Middle East and Turkey as before, but with a new focus on North Africa and the Horn of Africa.”This is part of the Commission’s efforts to provide viable safe and legal alternatives for those who risk their lives at the hands of criminal smuggling networks”, it said.It said it had set aside €500m (£440m; $590m) to support the programme, which it said would also bolster return rates, which it said were currently “unsatisfactory” at 36%.