On Monday, the UNHCR reported that they expect around 248,000 refugees and migrants to arrive in Europe by traversing the Mediterranean Sea. This estimate is quite a contrast to the previous numbers the group foresaw earlier this year when they stated “up to 1 million” people were expected.
According to the report, the UNHCR says that they have updated the first regional refugee plan issued in January to include the 156,000 refugees who have already arrived in Europe and an additional 92,000 who may arrive on the Turkey to Greece route by the end of 2016.
It is thought the closing of the border at Greece and FYROM and the new EU deal with Turkey back in March may have played a role in slowing the flow of migrants but that there may be dire consequences from these actions.
“The response strategy…recognizes that while legal and physical restrictions have been put in place at borders along the former route, the motivation of refugees and migrants to reach further into Europe will not abate,” it said.
The updated plan, which set out UNHCR’s strategy under a $670 million budget, will focus on the static communities the border closures have created and the determinate of the desperate migrants to reach Europe by any means.
The regional refugee plan stated that because of the closures there are “considerable risks” that the migrants who remain in the countries along the route from Turkey and Greece wanting to reach Europe “may approach smuggling networks to facilitate their onward travel, further exposing them to human rights violations and exploitation.”
The report did not include any statistics regarding a full-year estimate for other common migrant routes to Europe such as Libya to Italy, where more than 50,000 migrants have arrived this year and over 2,400 have perished along the route.
The UNHCR report did however state that if there are any large surges in migrants using other routes to get to Europe, they will update their strategy as necessary.