Executive Summary for September 16th

We review the latest news on refugees, including a poll finding Europeans are largely sympathetic to Syrian refugees, a rise in migrant arrivals on Greek islands in August and research mapping ‘covert’ arrivals of asylum seekers in the European Union.

Published on Sep. 16, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Most Europeans Sympathize With Syrian Refugees, Poll Finds

More than three-quarters of Europeans sympathize with Syrian refugees, according to a poll. The findings challenge the perception of rising anti-immigrant feelings.

“These findings show that Europeans have not lost their hearts,” said David Miliband, CEO of International Rescue Committee (IRC), the aid organization that published the poll.

Ireland came top in terms of sympathy for Syrian refugees, with 87 percent supporting their arrival in their country. Slovakia ranked bottom.

The survey of 12,000 people across 12 European Union countries found that more than two-thirds did not agree that the arrival of refugees was a risk to national security, despite recent attacks in Germany and France that were linked to migrants.

The high numbers of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe have been linked to a rise in right-wing populism. Syrians made up 28 percent of the 2015 arrivals, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

Greek Island Migrant and Refugee Arrivals up in August

There has been a significant rise in the numbers of migrants arriving in the Greek islands during the last month.

The European Union border agency, Frontex, said 3,430 arrivals were detected in August. The number was just over 2,000 in July.

Nationals from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq accounted for most arrivals on the Greek islands. The equivalent number of arrivals in August last year was more than 100,000.

Numbers of sea arrivals spike every summer when warmer weather and calmer seas encourage more people to risk the journey. The number of arrivals on the Greek islands is keenly watched for indications that the E.U.–Turkey migration pact is holding.

Under the deal agreed in March, Ankara stops migrants leaving for Greece and in return the the E.U. pays Turkey up to 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) to support Syrian refugees, waive visas for Turkish citizens visiting the bloc and accelerate E.U. membership talks.

Covert Migrant Arrivals on the Rise

We do not really know how many asylum seekers are entering Europe. New research shows “covert” arrivals have sharply increased in 2016. Sea arrivals, or “overt” routes, have declined sharply but the overall number of asylum applications has not.

“While on the surface the number of people arriving in Europe has fallen, the rate of those taking hidden routes to Europe has not been affected and is likely to increase,” said Marta Foresti, author of the report.

“These covert routes can be more dangerous and make it harder for governments to monitor migration and design effective responses.”

The report from the Overseas Development Institute, the London-based think tank, said 330,000 overt arrivals were expected this year compared with 1.1 million in 2015. But the number of expected asylum applications has not fallen so sharply, at 890,000.

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