The number of migrants reaching European shores has shot up sharply in the first half of the year, according to new figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The U.N. agency said 137,000 migrants have reached Greece, Malta, Italy and Spain since January, an 83% increase compared with the same period last year.
“Europe is living through a maritime refugee crisis of historic proportions,” the U.N. said.
From January to June, 68,000 migrants entered Greece from Turkey, while 67,500 landed on Italy’s southern shores after crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.
As Athens’ finances and its relations with its EU partners are a mess, Greece overtaking Italy (by a hair) as the main entry point for migrants does not bode well for it or Europe. But more broadly, these numbers illustrate a crisis that has grown beyond quick fixes, at least as currently on the table.
Just a week ago, we wrote about the high-profile, highly contentious summit of European leaders that just barely managed to pass a one-off resettlement plan for 60,000 people—after fighting until 3 a.m. At the time, we noted that, “while substantial as an absolute number, [60,000] is small as a percentage the overall number of asylum-seekers now on Europe’s shores.”
With summer coming, these raw intake numbers will increase—perhaps rapidly. And there are still backlogs to deal with. This is, unfortunately, another major European crisis where the numbers just don’t add up.