Numbers of refugee arrivals to Greece increase dramatically

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Greece is accelerating dramatically and has now reached the 160,000 mark. The latest figures compiled by UNHCR in Greece show the number of sea arrivals from 1 January to 14 August 2015 to be 158,456. During the same period, 1,716 refugees and migrants entered Greece through its land border with Turkey, bringing the total number of arrivals (sea and land) to 160,172.

The pace of arrivals has been steadily increasing in recent weeks. More refugees and migrants arrived in Greece during the month of July (50,242) than during the whole of last year (43,500). Last week (8 to 14 August) a total of 20,843 people arrived by sea in Greece, almost half as many as during the whole of 2014. The vast majority of last week's arrivals were Syrians (16,997 people or 82% of the total), Afghans (2,847 or 14%) and Iraqis (582 or 3%), confirming that the overwhelming majority or arrivals are likely to qualify for refugee status.

The latest figures from Greece bring the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year to some 264,500, including 158,456 to Greece, approximately 104,000 to Italy, 1,953 to Spain and 94 to Malta.

For months, UNHCR has been warning of a mounting refugee crisis on the Greek islands. The reception infrastructure, services and registration procedures both on the islands and on the mainland need to be strengthened urgently. We are recommending Greek authorities to designate a single body to coordinate an emergency response and set up an adequate humanitarian assistance mechanism. European countries should support Greece on these efforts. UNHCR is working to support the Greek authorities.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Kos, Stella Nanou, [email protected], +30 693 79 34 515

In Lesbos, Aikaterini Kitidi, [email protected], +30 693 711 5656

In Geneva, William Spindler, [email protected], +41 79 217 3011