Eastern Mediterranean

Eastern Mediterranean

This route is through Turkey to Greece, Southern Bulgaria and Cyprus. Initially the route was across the land border between Turkey and Greece, In 2008/9 this route accounted for 40% of all migrants arriving in the EU (40 000 per year). Following construction of a fence and the intervention of RABIT (Rapid Border Intervention Team) to patrol it, the route was deflected to the Bulgarian land border and then to the Turkey/Greece sea border. There is only a small stretch of water between Turkey and some Greek islands and with the terrible death toll on the Mediterranean routes the numbers using this route have surged, using small inflatable boats. Many are Syrian refugees, with Eritreans, Somalis and Afghans, plus increasingly people from sub-Saharan Africa. In 2014 there were even some sea crossings in larger vessels from Turkey to Italy. Bulgaria and Romania reported increasing arrivals from Turkey in 2014.

 

The rise in numbers in 2015 has been dramatic and small islands like Kos and Lesbos have been overwhelmed with thousands of arrivals on a daily basis. Mainland Greece has become a major transit point for migrants hoping to reach northern Europe through the West Balkan route.

 

Numbers of migrants: 2015 January – July: 132,240 (2014. 50,830)